MSB Enhancement Project Part 1A — Species Targeting
Example of a species sheet from a collection guide
The Species Targeting Team (Part 1a of MSB Enhancement Project) was born out of the recognition that some partner countries of the MSB would benefit from extra assistance in the targeting of species to be collected for seed conservation. Twelve partner countries involved in this project are Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chile, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mexico, South Africa, and Tanzania.
The team utilises RBG Kew's vast herbarium specimen and literature resources to collate the information necessary to prioritise species for conservation in the partner countries. The data collected on each species are then compiled into collection guides designed to facilitate the collection of these species in the field. Over a three year period, at least one collection guide will be produced for each country.
We extract, database and georeference information from herbarium specimens at RBG Kew and in the cases of Madagascar, Burkina Faso and Mali, at the Paris (MNHN) herbarium. When available, we combine this with data provided by the partner country and information on the species taken from literature resources (including distribution, habitat and plant descriptions). The data are then subjected to geographical information systems and other analyses to provide i) recorded distributions and habitat descriptions; ii) species phenology patterns; iii) recommended localities for seed collection; and iv) preliminary assessments of extinction risk (based on geographical range measurements). In parallel with the data extraction, digital images of herbarium specimens are created. Providing an image and a plant description based on recognisable field characteristics allows partners to rapidly identify target species in the field.
The resulting collection guides are distributed to the collecting teams in each country and are used to plan efficient seed collecting trips based on all the relevant information for the targeted species.
Producing Conservation Assessments of databased taxa is an important part of the Collection Guide process. The production of preliminary conservation assessments for each taxon enables the species to be prioritised for seed collection according to its threat of extinction - those with the highest threat are most likely to be included in the collection guides. For each country, those species determined as having either the highest extinction threat, or as being data deficient, are treated to a fuller conservation assessment based on IUCN Red List categories and criteria. Although these fuller assessments are not included in the collection guides, they are subject to peer review by regional experts both internal and external to RBG Kew. It is envisaged that these fuller assessments will be submitted to IUCN Species Survival Commission for review, and will be sent to partner institutions and conservation organisations within the partner countries to be used for conservation management.
The project has also been responsible for training a number of collaborators from partner institutions in some or all of the following techniques: digitisation, georeferencing, GIS, Conservation Assessments and Collection Guide Production. Since the start of the project 10 collaborators have been trained from six countries (Botswana, Jordan, Malawi, Mexico, Kenya, and South Africa). For more description of the Mexico guide production and use of predictive distributions.