An assessment of the taxonomic underpinning of the NEM:BA A&IS Regulations

An assessment of the taxonomic underpinning of the NEM:BA A&IS Regulations
Pieter J.D. Winter1, Michael Cheek2, Thulisile Jaca3, James S. Boatwright4Ronell R. Klopper3, Marianne le Roux3
1Compton Herbarium, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
2Kwazulu-Natal Herbarium, SANBI
3National Herbarium, SANBI
4Dept of Biology, University of the Western Cape

Any work involving management of plant species, requires a sound scientific basis, thus a solid taxonomic underpinning of the South African Invasive Species Programme (ISP) and its outputs is essential.  The aim of this paper is to assess whether this is being achieved. This will strengthen the reporting framework required for the National Status Report on Biological Invasions.

South Africa has a long history of effectively managing plant taxon information, but this has historically had a strong bias to indigenous plants, thus virtually ignoring our alien taxa.  The result is that our biodiversity collections are very poor in alien representatives, and that the taxonomic underpinning of the knowledge of our alien Flora is neglected.  This bias was not limited to the collections, but is also evident in the databasing efforts to date.  The priority for mobilising plant data from botanical collections has been indigenous plants to the virtual exclusion of alien taxa.

In an assessment of taxonomic needs of the ISP, we prioritise the current state of knowledge for plants requiring compulsory control.  Each species is assessed as to whether we have on record the particular taxon circumscription applied by a specific author in a specific reference and whether we have a selected voucher specimen that serves to pin down the application of the name.  We also assign a confidence level to the application of the name used and recommend any further steps as would be necessary to fix the taxonomic scope of knowledge.