Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Citizen scientists discover new plant species in the Cape Floral Kingdom

19.03.2015

Amateur botanists in the Western Cape Province of South Africa have discovered two new species of beautiful blue-flowered legumes. The study was published in the open access journal PhytoKeys.

Few people take the chance to tramp the empty rolling ranges of mountains and the fragmented and jagged coastline of the Southern Cape in South Africa. Most avoid it because of how wild and tough-going it can be.


These are flowers of Psoralea vanberkelae.

Credit: Nicky Van Berkel

This region is part of a unique and species rich global flora called the Cape Floral Kingdom. Yet there are a band of intrepid walkers and climbers who traverse these areas every week searching for rare and endangered plants.

One such group call themselves the Outramps (Afrikaans for Senior walkers). They are part of bigger group of amateurs who belong to a Citizen science group called C.R.E.W. (Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers) which is run by the South African Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). 'Crewites', as they are called locally, are volunteers from the public who help with monitoring and conserving South Africa's threatened plants.

The Outramps are the most active CREW group in South Africa and are led by their indomitable leader Dianne Turner. She and her group, in their dilapidated and famous Kombi called 'The Buchu Bus' have crisscrossed the region many times and have assessed the conservation status of many rare species.

Recently they discovered two beautiful blue-flowered legumes which they thought were new to science. They sent these to Abubakar Bello (a Nigerian student doing a Ph.D. on the legume tribe Psoraleeae at the University of Cape Town) and one of his supervisors Prof. Charles Stirton.

After a field trip with their colleague Prof. Muthama Muasya, to see them in the field and after comparing them with known species, they were identified as new members of the legume genus Psoralea.

As Charles Stirton told us "Without the persistence and enthusiasm of the Outrampers, we would never have picked up these species in our studies as they were in areas we would not have accessed in our planned field trips. It is not uncommon for highly localised species to be overlooked by monographers".

To honour the Outrampers, they decided to name the new species after the group leader Dianne (Psoralea diturnerae) and the ace photographer in the group Nicky van Berkel (P. vanberkelae) who discovered the plants respectively.

Di's Psoralea (P. diturnerae) is a mountain species and is known from only a few localities around the Camferskloof area in the Outeniqua mountains.

Nicky's Psoralea (P. vanberkelae) is locally abundant in an area of less than 20 km2 coastal habitat along the Robberg Coastal Corridor. Fortunately, the main population is owned and protected by a keen conservationist Chris von Christierson in his private Fynbos Private Nature Reserve. This stunning species is a flagship species for this wild and relatively unknown coastal strip where the cliff edges rise sharply from the sea and their escarpments are not easy to access.

The discovery of P. vanberkelae has stimulated a drive to undertake a botanical inventory along the unique 16 km long coastal strip between Robberg and Harkerville and to get it declared a Protected Environment. The University of Cape Town botanists are keen to support this as they also noticed many other rare species in the area. Even normal plants such as Virgilias and buchus adopt strange forms here - a combination of the shearing salty sea breeze spray, the quartz substrate, their isolation, and poor local nutrition

Citizen scientists in South Africa are playing a valuable role in the discovery and protection of the unique Cape Flora. This paper is a testament to their contribution.

###

Original source

Bello A, Stirton CH, Chimphango SBM, Muasya AM (2015) Psoralea diturnerae and P. vanberkelae (Psoraleeae, Fabaceae): two new species restricted to the Core Cape Region of South Africa. PhytoKeys 44: 97-107. doi:10.3897/phytokeys.44.8999

Additional Information

Support for the study was provided by the Nigeria Tertiary Education Trust Fund (NTETF), Management of Umaru Musa Yar'adua University Katsina, Nigeria, South African National Research Foundation, and the University of Cape Town.

Abubakar Bello | EurekAlert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>