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Abstract Detail

Kral-ing Through Time: The Impact of Robert Kral on the Past, Present, and Future of Botany in the Southeastern U.S

Weakley, Alan [1].

Dr. Kral’s work as a foundation for a new era of taxonomic research, plant diversity documentation, and conservation in the botanically rich Southeastern United States. .

Through a long and active career, Dr. Robert Kral collected, taught, researched difficult plant genera, named new species, and published. Certainly one of the most important botanists working on the Southeastern United States (SEUS) flora in the last half of the twentieth century, Kral built a foundation that serves modern students of the diverse SEUS flora. His extensive collections, concentrated at VDB-at-BRIT but also extensively exchanged to many other institutions in the SEUS region, will continue to serve as intellectual fodder for botanical research for generations to come. For Alabama and Tennessee, his collecting forms an especially critical and dominant contribution to our understanding of the floras of those states. His monographic treatments of genera such as Xyris, Eriocaulon, Rhexia, and others form a foundational basis for ongoing work. Notably, many of the new taxa he named were rare endemics of unusual and often poorly explored SEUS habitats, and often in difficult or “technical” genera that had received inadequate careful attention from previous botanists. As younger botanists explore the SEUS flora, this pattern has proven a fruitful one in sussing out new taxa – rare and endemic habitats support rare and endemic species, if one takes the care to look carefully. As we approach the third decade of the 21st century, there appears to be no slacking off of additions to the SEUS flora – if anything, new species are being discovered at an increasing pace, by seeking oddities in rare habitats and studying them critically through traditional and new methods. The bounty of new and highly imperiled species in the rich SEUS flora represents a conservation challenge and crisis, with SEUS habitats under numerous threats. In this regard, too, Kral broke new ground in 1983, cataloging imperiled species and the land management threats to them in an under-appreciated 1305-page agency report (plainly and descriptively titled “A report on some rare, threatened, or endangered forest-related vascular plants of the South”) that remains a useful source of information more than a third of a century later.

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1 - CB 3280, UNC Herbarium / NC Botanical Garden, UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599-3280, USA

Southeastern United States

Presentation Type: Colloquium Presentations
Session: CO1, Kral-ing through time: the impact of Robert Kral on the past, present, and future of botany in the southeastern US
Location: Fort Worth Ballroom 4/Omni Hotel
Date: Monday, June 26th, 2017
Time: 9:15 AM
Number: CO1005
Abstract ID:247
Candidate for Awards:None

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