image of the river in Southwester Amazonia

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.

Related project: First Catalogue of the Flora of Acre