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Abstract Detail

Big Data and the Conservation of North America's Flora

Weakley, Alan [1].

The role of systematics, taxonomic concepts, and databases in conservation.

It may seem a truism to state that systematics is fundamental to conservation; yet the connection is often obscured. We can’t work to conserve what we don’t know exists, and modern planning for the conservation of rare species depends on accurately assessing the taxonomy of putative imperiled species, gathering accurate and current data on extant and viable occurrences of these species, and working to assure their conservation. The taxonomic validity of taxa, and the vailidity of their imperilment, are both critical to avoiding either unaffordable Type 1 or Type 2 errors: failing to conserve a valid and imperiled taxon, or expending substantial effort to conserve a taxonomically meaningless or non-imperiled taxon. Efficient conservation planning leading to optimal and effective conservation action depends on aggregating data on many species and conducting geographically explicit meta-analyses. With increasing efforts to aggregate biodiversity data, this goal may seem in reach, but it is seriously hampered by uncareful and unsophisticated data aggregation that ignores the pervasive issue of differing taxonomic concepts for a taxon and associated different meanings of a name (on the one hand, data associated with a particular name may not refer unambiguously to the same entity, and on the other hand, data associated with a different name may refer unambiguously to the same entity). Developing an effective data foundation for conservation is also hampered by severe underfunding for field surveys, taxonomic research, imperilment ranking, and database design and development. We can do better, in small and large ways, to provide a solid data foundation to inform conservation!

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

Taxonomic Concepts

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: 9:15 AM
Number: SY5004
Abstract ID:328
Candidate for Awards:None

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