Thursday, 13 June 2013

Global Species Database Spotlight: Droseraceae

Alastair Culham showing the difference between Drosera anglica, 
D.rotundifolia and the hybrid D. × obovata

Global Species Database name:

Database owner:
Alastair Culham

Where are you based?
University of Reading, UK

What taxa does your database cover?
All species in the family Droseraceae

How many accepted names do you hold?
182 species + 52 infraspecific taxa

How many synonyms?

How many common names?
0 - although I plan to add these.

How and when did the database come about?

How many people work on the database?
Mostly me but one other colleague - Chris Yesson set up the database structure.

What software do you use?
MS Access

How complete is it?

Is it continuing to grow and if so, how?
Species are being added when they are published. Adding common names will cause substantial growth.

Are there any interesting areas of taxonomic contention within your group?
Yes, the rank of species/ subspecies/varieties is often contentious.

Do you have a favourite species or group of taxa?
Not really. Drosera rotundifolia is the first species I saw in the wild so has a bit of a special place.

Do you have any fun or unusual names in your group?
I think the collective common name of 'Rainbow Sundews' for a group of western Australian climbing species is very evocative of the impression they create of moisture in a very dry habitat. Also the Venus flytrap has a plethora of common names that are both unusual and descriptive such as tippititwitchet.

What made you choose a career in taxonomy?
The really global impact it has and the opportunity to help describe and understand life on earth.

Do you think traditional taxonomy has a future?
It depends what that means? Taxonomy has a tradition of taking new techniques and owning them. It continues to do this so I think traditional taxonomy does have a future. However I don't think isolationist taxonomy has a future if that means a person sitting at a desk doing their own thing in isolation from the world.

What is the most exciting recent taxonomic development in your group?
The regular discovery of new species, some of which have caused a complete rethink of the biogeography of the family.

If you had the funds what improvements if any would you make to the database?
I'd make it a multimedia database with images, videos, interviews and try to effect user feedback.

Do you submit to any other biodiversity aggregators than the CoL?
Not at present.

Drosera miniata
Drosera cistiflora
Drosera stolonifera subp porrecta
Drosera rosulata
Drosera stolonifera subsp. stolonifera
Drosera whittakeri

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