A nonet of new plant species from Africa emphasizes the importance of herbaria in botany

August 30, 2016

Combining modern molecular methods, with more traditional morphological ones, a recent revision of the custard apple genus Monanthotaxis has revealed a nonet of new species.

Lying unnoticed on shelves, some of these species had to wait for many decades to be discovered with methods, unavailable at the time of their collection. Some collected 40 years ago, some as far back as a 100, the nine new species are described in the open access journal Phytokeys to showcase the importance of herbarium collections in Botany.

"Although for many of the new species good flowering material became available only recently, this does prove the importance of herbaria, and the need for exploring their collections," explains the lead author, PhD student Paul H. Hoekstra, Naturalis Biodiversity Center and Wageningen University. "On the other hand, using DNA techniques we were able to link recently collected sterile collections to several of these poorly collected species, enabling us to improve their conservation assessment."

Confined to tropical Africa and Madagascar, species from this genus all share similar features such as a typical climbing habit and bluish-green or glaucous leaves.

Two of the newly described species come from West Africa, four from western Central Africa, and for the remaining three Tanzania, Southern Mozambique and the Comoros host one each. This distribution comes in confirmation of a general pattern in recent revisions of both the custard apple family Annonaceae and other tropical African forest taxa, where most new species are found in western central Africa and Tanzania.

Giving important information about areas of potential botanical and ecological interest, this trend is supported by the high level of conservation concern among the newly described species. With five species classified as critically endangered, two as endangered, one as vulnerable the need of further collecting and studying those species and exploration of the relevant areas is warranted.

"Exploring those areas for new species is rather important if we want to have a real idea of their truly amazing botanical diversity," explains Hoekstra. "Madagascar, for example, is also an area with many undescribed species, a fact also true for our group of interest, Monanthotaxis, and we anticipate for at least another seven new species to be described from this area."
-end-
Original Source:

Hoekstra PH, Wieringa JJ, Chatrou LW (2016) A nonet of novel species of Monanthotaxis (Annonaceae) from around Africa. PhytoKeys 69: 71-103. doi: 10.3897/phytokeys.69.9292

Pensoft Publishers

Related Madagascar Articles from Brightsurf:

Humans and climate drove giants of Madagascar to extinction
The entire endemic megafauna of Madagascar and the Mascarene islands Mauritius and Rodrigues was eliminated during the past millennium.

Madagascar: New mouse lemur species discovered
Group of researchers, from six countries, identified, genetically and morphologically, a new population of rats (Microcebus) that inhabit the same forests as another usual species previously described.

Madagascar copal: New dating for an Antropocene ancient resin
The known Madagascar copal is a more recent resin from what was thought -it has about a few hundred years- and trapped pieces in this material are not as palaeontological important as thought traditionally.

Marooned on Mesozoic Madagascar
In evolutionary terms, islands are the stuff of weirdness. It is on islands where animals evolve in isolation, often for millions of years, with different food sources, competitors, predators, and parasites...indeed, different everything compared to mainland species.

Unraveling the puzzle of Madagascar's forest cats
Michelle Sauther has long wondered where Madagascar's mysterious wild cats came from.

Habitat fragmentation imperils Madagascar's large-bodied lemurs
A new study in the American Journal of Primatology highlights the critical need for conservation efforts to protect lemurs on Madagascar.

The importance of Madagascar's lowland rainforest for lemur conservation
Throughout their evolutionary history, animals in regions with limited lowland habitat have evolved to adapt to higher elevations.

Mosquito surveillance uncovers new information about malaria transmission in madagascar
Riley Tedrow, Ph.D., a medical entomologist at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, has uncovered new findings about malaria transmission in Madagascar.

Severely disturbed habitats impacting health of Madagascar's lemurs
A new study finds that degraded rainforest habitats are impacting the health of at least one species of Madagascar's treasured lemurs.

The last chance for Madagascar's biodiversity
A group of scientists from Madagascar, UK, Australia, USA and Finland have recommended actions the government of Madagascar's recently elected president, Andry Rajoelina should take to turn around the precipitous decline of biodiversity and help put Madagascar on a trajectory towards sustainable growth.

Read More: Madagascar News and Madagascar Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.