Floristic Exploration in Southwestern Amazonia

Douglas C. Daly

I worked on documenting the flora of the state of Acre in Amazonian Brazil over a period of 25 years, culminating in the publication of the First Catalogue of the Flora of Acre, Brazil, which documented 4000 species of plants and included a botanical history of the state and analyses of biogeography, common names, and contributions to conservation.

A natural outgrowth of the Acre project has been a geographical expansion that embraces all of the Southwestern Amazon, a distinctive flora that includes parts of Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia. The Acre team and I developed a consortium of herbaria based in Southwestern Amazonia that shares data and specimens, and we have been developing a website for this.

Within the SW Amazon initiative, I am concentrating my efforts on the state of Rondônia, Brazil, where I have replicated the Acre program, that is, partnering with the federal university there and investing in training, institution-building, scientific exchange, and of course botanical exploration and collecting throughout the state. Rondônia is quite a contrast to Acre in that it has many transitions to the cerrado (savanna woodland) vegetation characteristic of Central Brazil, as well as large areas of white-sand formations and two low mountain ranges that are virtually unexplored.

In order to call more attention to Rondônia, I am editing a collection of articles about various aspects of its flora, including botanical history, characterization of vegetation types, and new species, which will be published together in NYBG’s systematics journal, Brittonia.