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 Colorectal cancer risk factors decrypted
13.07.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Stoffwechselforschung

nachricht Algae Have Land Genes
13.07.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Research finds new molecular structures in boron-based nanoclusters

13.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Algae Have Land Genes

13.07.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>