The decline of field botany

An article worth reading:

Profiling prolific plant hunters provides insight as to strategy for collecting undiscovered plant species.

The gist is: the current situation is dire.

“Plant collecting is a specific part of the three-step process of plant species discovery (collection, recognition and publication), and as the numbers of professional taxonomists who classify plants decline, there has been a massive increase in the utilization of non-professionals to aid in this work. This study suggests that as science pushes for more rapid documentation of the world’s flora, policy makers and funders must examine how best to develop the experience and skills of selected individuals to catalog undiscovered plants more efficiently.

“One way for institutions to encourage the development of these skills is in performance evaluations, rewarding effective field work on an equal footing with number of papers published and grants obtained,” notes Davidse.”

In other words, there’s no money to do field botany, institutions aren’t encouraging it, we aren’t training new field botanists, and we aren’t hiring them. And that’s why we need to do what we can quickly and on a shoe-string budget.