Can a change in taxonomy help protect species? - Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew research repository
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Master's dissertation

Can a change in taxonomy help protect species?



The genus Pterocarpus contains some of the world’s most heavily traded rosewood species. Presently, three Asian and two African Pterocarpus species are listed as threatened on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Pterocarpus rohrii Vahl is a highly variable species, distributed throughout Central and South America. A recent taxonomic revision of the P. rohrii complex resulted in the reclassification of 588 herbarium records, previously identified as P. rohrii but now recognised to represent 10 distinct species. The present study utilises herbarium records to investigate the distribution and conservation status of 12 neotropical Pterocarpus species (mainly of names previously hiding in synonymy under P. rohrii) and aims to explore whether a change in taxonomy can help protect species. Geospatial data and GIS methods were used to assess the distribution of each species and IUCN Red List criteria were applied to determine their conservation status. A total of seven species were found to be Least Concern. A near endemic Bolivian species and four Brazilian species are threatened (IUCN Category: Vulnerable), and one Brazilian species is Near Threatened. The conservation assessments presented here reveal that 30% of all species assessed are threatened and demonstrate that changes in taxonomy can help protect species.


File nameDate UploadedVisibilityFile size
30 Apr 2020
15.5 MB