Daniel Hinojosa reports for Pagina Siete:
A catalog registers 15,345 plant species in Bolivia
This is the Catalogue of Vascular Plants of Bolivia, which includes 85% of the total number of plants in the country.
The need to know the number of species of plants that are located in Bolivia motivated a group of researchers and institutions to develop the Catalogue of Vascular Plants of Bolivia that records 15,345 species distributed in the country. The work includes approximately 85% of the total amount estimated in the country. This research places the country among the 12 richest in plants in the world.
The research conducted over 15 years was compiled in two volumes. The piece was officially published last year. The last work referred to this issue is the Foster Books, 1958, which included 9,431 species. “A country as diverse as Bolivia desperately needed a job like this,” said the professor at the Institute of Ecology of the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, Stephan Beck.
The director of the National Herbarium of Bolivia, Rosa Isela Meneses, detailed that research categorizes 14,163 between endemic species found only in Bolivia, and native species, belonging to the country but elsewhere; 694 cultivated species planted in Bolivia; 267 adventitious species introduced from other countries; and 221 naturalized species, established in the country. These results reflect the rich biodiversity of the country.
“The 15 percent of species still missing to register, will include new species for science. They were not recorded due to the difficulty of the areas where they are mainly located, in mountainous areas of the Yungas and the Amazonian lowlands of northern Bolivia. Although it is a small percentage, Bolivia is among the 12 countries in the world with greater wealth of plants,” says Meneses.
In the Catalogue of Vascular Plants of Bolivia, are described references, synonyms, information on the geographical distribution, vegetation types, altitudinal distribution and ways of life. Additionally, you can find maps that refer to areas where they are distributed species of plants and where the gaps of this natural wealth are presented.
The researcher at the National Herbarium of Bolivia, Alfredo Fuentes, explains that this information is useful to botanists, agronomists, foresters, farmers, ecologists, and others. Shows the potential of plants in Bolivia as genetic, timber, ornamental, medicinal resources, etc. Information on uses or biological and ecological roles can be oriented or approximate from the scientific name of the plant.
“For example, in the catalog are registered 23 species of wild peanuts and only 12 are known in Bolivia. Wild populations of these 23 species are important to carry out breeding of cultivated peanut, to increase production and improve its resistance resources from pests and effects of climate change, “explains Fuentes.
Causes of extinction of some species
The processes of deforestation and expansion of the agricultural frontier in the country cause that different plant species at risk of extinction. Among the areas identified with this type of hazard is the Bolivian Amazon, known as a place little explored botanically.
“The plants that are endangered directly affect human form because it has an ecological function, mainly in the catchment. The fact that they are endangered indicates that there are ecological processes that can affect the way of life of people, “said Fuentes.
In recent decades, the National Herbarium of Bolivia installed plant monitoring plots in the high mountain areas and nearby wetlands. These instruments were working strategically located in areas far from population, in order to avoid human-plant contact and obtain input for the study of plants in our country.
“Last year, Apolobamba we noticed that people were making inroads with the goal of finding gold and this directly affects the monitoring plots manner. This type of activity makes us obtain erroneous results. We are now working on a study to know if climate change affects plants,” Meneses said.
The Catalogue of Vascular Plants of Bolivia was carried out in collaboration between the National Herbarium of Bolivia, Martín Cárdenas Forestry Herbarium, Herbarium of Eastern Bolivia, Missouri Botanical Garden, and New York Botanical Garden. The information contained in this research represents the efforts of national and international botanists.
The research is available digitally at http://tropicos.org/Project/BC
Towards a study of the flora of Bolivia
The Catalogue of Vascular Plants of Bolivia is the basis for the development of a research study of the flora of Bolivia. Also this work serves as the basis for future studies of vascular plants in the country.
Stephan Beck, professor at the Institute of Ecology of the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, explains that the Catalogue of Vascular Plants of Bolivia is key to begin a more detailed study of the Bolivian flora, which they are already known places, where it was found wealth and natural wealth gaps were also identified.
“This study of the flora of Bolivia may describe the family, types, genres, more specific species and a dichotomous key that helps differentiate species and distribution of where they are. But to carry out this research are seeking financial support, it is not easy to end this type of research. In addition, professional taxonomists are needed, and there are currently few in the country,” says Beck.
According to researcher Alfredo Fuentes, the study of the flora of Bolivia will be delayed in three decades to be complete.
Great news and pride for all of us! Our flora is in The Hall of Bolivian Fame!