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Abstract Detail

Big Data and the Conservation of North America's Flora

Owell, Peggy [1], Frances, Anne [2].

Big Data and the Conservation of North America's Flora.

Botanists have a crucial role to play in conserving the plants of North America. To fully realize the goal of conserving plant biodiversity in a comprehensive and holistic manner, academics, conservationists, and land managers need to join forces. This is because approximately one third of the 30,000 species of plants native to the US and Canada are considered at-risk (“critically imperiled”, “imperiled”, or “vulnerable”according to NatureServe). Plant imperilment is expected to increase due to intensifying impacts of climate change and plant pests and pathogens. Yet plant conservation overall continues to suffer from insufficient attention and funding. For example, only 20 percent of plants regarded by NatureServe as "critically imperiled" or "imperiled" are federally listed under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA). More than 55 percent of species protected by the ESA are plants and yet only four percent of Federal recovery funds go to ESA listed plants. In addition, botanical expertise is spread thin and botanical capacity is declining. Although many plants have been successfully conserved over the past several decades, our conservation methods and level of engagement have largely remained the same. To meet the pressing challenge of conserving plants in the coming decades, we need to integrate new approaches that enable us to use limited resources in more coordinated and efficient ways. New technologies and the increasing availability of big data provide opportunities to increase our efficiency and connect research results to conservation. This symposium will highlight how big data can inform and guide plant conservation more effectively, while identifying challenges associated with big data. The presentation topics span many aspects of plant conservation that overlap different areas of botanical research. The first talk analyzes trends in plant status over the decades using data from the Natural Heritage Network, observation data, and newly digitized herbarium specimens. The next presentation summarizes results on the first attempt to quantify plant extinction in North America north of Mexico. The following topic explores how the rapidly changing fields of systematics and bioinformatics pose new opportunities and challenges for tracking taxonomic concepts. Subsequently, the use of new technologies in both ex-situ and in-situ conservation will be discussed. The next presentation provides a regional perspective on plant conservation, with important insights gained only from documenting complete floristic inventories over time. The final talk examines incorporating data from multiple scales (e.g., climate data and plant genetic data) into seed sourcing for ecological restoration.

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1 - Bureau of Land Management
2 - NatureServe, 4600 North Fairfax Drive, 7th Floor, Arlington, VA, 22203, USA, 305-321-7073

none specified

Presentation Type: Symposium Presentation
Session: SY5, Big Data and the Conservation of North America's Flora
Location: Sundance 5/Omni Hotel
Date: Wednesday, June 28th, 2017
Time: 8:00 AM
Number: SY5SUM
Abstract ID:12
Candidate for Awards:None

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