Recent studies of the global diversity of the lichenized fungal family Graphidaceae suggest that there are a large number of species remaining to be discovered. No less that 175 new species are introduced by Field Museum curators Thorsten Lumbsch and Robert Lücking and collaborators in a single study. However, statistical prediction suggests that the number of species still to be discovered and described is more than 1,800, presumed to occur largely in tropical regions of Mexico, the northern Andes, the Amazon, tropical West Africa, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea.
An NSF-funded workshop project led by Field Museum Adjunct Curator Robert Lücking received world-wide attention through a report in the international science business journal International Innovation. The article highlights Robert's training activities in Latin America and focuses on the particular situation in Colombia, where the project has developed substantial scientific expertise in short time.
A two day Biosynthesis meeting was held on August 29 & 30, which worked toward the goal of engaging students of partnering institutions to aid in capturing data from scientific collections; thus relieving some of the taxonomic impediment.
A 2010 issue of Phytotaxa was dedicated to a group of green land plants commonly referred to as bryophytes. A broad consensus confirms that bryophytes may not be monophyletic, but rather represent three paraphyletic lines, i.e., Marchantiophyta (liverworts), Anthocerotophyta (hornworts), and Bryophyta (mosses). Together, bryophytes are the second largest group of land plants after flowering plants, and are pivotal in our understanding of early land plant evolution. A growing body of evidence is now supporting liverworts as the earliest diverging lineage of embryophytes, i.e., sister to all other groups of land plants.
There remains a critical need to synthesize the vast amount of nomenclatural, taxonomical and global distributional data for liverworts and hornworts. This is fundamental in the efforts towards developing a working list of all known plant species under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Such a synthesis has far reaching implications and applications, including providing a valuable tool for taxonomists and systematists, analyzing phytogeographic and diversity patterns, aiding in the assessment of floristic and taxonomic knowledge, and identifying geographical gaps in our understanding of the global liverwort and hornwort flora. We here outline and discuss the methodology as part of an international consortium referred to as the Early Land Plants Today (ELPT) project.
An overview and full details of the project was published in Phytotaxa in 2010 and is freely available (access here)