New Guinea has the world’s richest island flora

Rodrigo Cámara-Leret, David G. Frodin, Frits Adema, Christiane Anderson, Marc S. Appelhans, George Argent, Susana Arias Guerrero, Peter Ashton, William J. Baker, Anders S. Barfod, David Barrington, Renata Borosova, Gemma L.C. Bramley, Marie Briggs, Sven Buerki, Daniel Cahen, Martin W. Callmander, Martin Cheek, Cheng Wei Chen, Barry J. ConnMark J.E. Coode, Iain Darbyshire, Sally Dawson, John Dransfield, Clare Drinkell, Brigitta Duyfjes, Atsushi Ebihara, Zacky Ezedin, Long Fei Fu, Osia Gideon, Deden Girmansyah, Rafaël Govaerts, Helen Fortune-Hopkins, Gustavo Hassemer, Alistair Hay, Charlie D. Heatubun, D. J.Nicholas Hind, Peter Hoch, Peter Homot, Peter Hovenkamp, Mark Hughes, Matthew Jebb, Laura Jennings, Tiberius Jimbo, Michael Kessler, Ruth Kiew, Sandra Knapp, Penniel Lamei, Marcus Lehnert, Gwilym P. Lewis, Hans Peter Linder, Stuart Lindsay, Yee Wen Low, Eve Lucas, Jeffrey P. Mancera, Alexandre K. Monro, Alison Moore, David J. Middleton, Hidetoshi Nagamasu, Mark F. Newman, Eimear Nic Lughadha, Pablo H.A. Melo, Daniel J. Ohlsen, Caroline M. Pannell, Barbara Parris, Laura Pearce, Darin S. Penneys, Leon R. Perrie, Peter Petoe, Axel Dalberg Poulsen, Ghillean T. Prance, J. Peter Quakenbush, Niels Raes, Michele Rodda, Zachary S. Rogers, André Schuiteman, Pedro Schwartsburd, Robert W. Scotland, Mark P. Simmons, David A. Simpson, Peter Stevens, Michael Sundue, Weston Testo, Anna Trias-Blasi, Ian Turner, Timothy Utteridge, Lesley Walsingham, Bruce L. Webber, Ran Wei, George D. Weiblen, Maximilian Weigend, Peter Weston, Willem de Wilde, Peter Wilkie, Christine M. Wilmot-Dear, Hannah P. Wilson, John R.I. Wood, Li Bing Zhang, Peter C. van Welzen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

New Guinea is the world’s largest tropical island and has fascinated naturalists for centuries1,2. Home to some of the best-preserved ecosystems on the planet3 and to intact ecological gradients—from mangroves to tropical alpine grasslands—that are unmatched in the Asia-Pacific region4,5, it is a globally recognized centre of biological and cultural diversity6,7. So far, however, there has been no attempt to critically catalogue the entire vascular plant diversity of New Guinea. Here we present the first, to our knowledge, expert-verified checklist of the vascular plants of mainland New Guinea and surrounding islands. Our publicly available checklist includes 13,634 species (68% endemic), 1,742 genera and 264 families—suggesting that New Guinea is the most floristically diverse island in the world. Expert knowledge is essential for building checklists in the digital era: reliance on online taxonomic resources alone would have inflated species counts by 22%. Species discovery shows no sign of levelling off, and we discuss steps to accelerate botanical research in the ‘Last Unknown’8.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-583
Number of pages5
JournalNature
Volume584
Issue number7822
Early online date5 Aug 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2020

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