Introduction to the Euro+Med PlantBase
The Euro+Med Project provides an on-line database and information system for the vascular plants of Europe and the Mediterranean region, against an up-to-date and critically evaluated consensus taxonomic core of the species concerned. The first stage of the project (referred to as Phase One) has been financed for three years by the European Union under Framework V.
The ESFEDS (European Science Foundation European Documentation System) database was used to provide the initial starting point for the taxonomic core of Euro+Med PlantBase. This database, developed at The University of Reading, comprised names and associated data from Flora Europaea. This has expanded with additional names and information from MedChecklist (Greuter & al., 1984, 1986, 1989), the Flora of Macaronesia dataset (Hansen & Sunding, 1993) and published Floras from the Euro-Mediterranean region.
A key component of the Euro+Med PlantBase initiative is the critical evaluation of the expanded database. A mechanism for the regional co-operative revision of the taxonomic status of all families, genera, species and subspecies described from the Euro-Mediterranean region is being developed. The organisation of this work involves specialists from over 50 countries and territories within the region. This revisionary process results in an agreed taxonomic core, which is one of the main outputs of the project.
A great amount of information has been amassed on the plant diversity of the Euro-Mediterranean region, but hitherto no consistent attempt has been made to bring this together and relate it to an agreed taxonomic framework. The agreed taxonomic framework provided by the Euro+Med taxonomic core will be used for this purpose.
Phase One of the project provided funds for eleven Partner Institutes to undertake nine different workpackages. The project is managed by an Executive Committee and the day-to-day management is the responsibility of the Secretariat based at the Botanical Garden Berlin.
Flora Europaea to Euro+Med PlantBase
Flora Europaea (Tutin et al. 1964—1980, 1993) gave the first continental overview of the flora of a continent and provided a remarkable consensus of its taxonomy. The success of the project stimulated taxonomic research on the European flora (contrary to what critics believed would happen), and brought together, through collaboration and symposium meetings, the botanists of Europe. The production of Med-Checklist (Greuter, Burdet & Long, 1984, 1986 & 1989, Greuter 2008) after the five volumes of Flora Europaea gave the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea a synonymic checklist whose names had been studied by the world’s best nomenclaturalists and thus were extremely sound. The new taxonomy and nomenclature produced needed incorporating into Flora Europaea. The royalties from sales of the volumes were paid into a Trust Fund by Vernon Heywood with admirable foresight and extremely ably managed by the Linnean Society of London. After the publication of the fifth and final volume, these royalties were spent in employing Dr John Akeroyd to upgrade volume one. John’s thankless task showed just how far things had moved on and he successfully managed to produce in 1993 a revised volume one with a 10% increase in taxa over edition one. (Descriptions of subspecies were needed and added by John; geographical phrases brought into line, etc.) He also amended the geographical data significantly (both the accuracy of the phraseology and presence by country codes). Although the fundamental political changes were already underway in Europe, there was no way any of these could be accommodated with the very restricted resources available. It was also not considered inappropriate that a new Flora Europaea was produced in the same way as the old. What did the user actually want in the 21st century? In answer to this, Euro+Med PlantBase was set up.
The Euro+Med PlantBase is part of the Pan-European Species directories Infrastructure (PESI), funded by the European Union under the Framework 7 Capacities Work Programme.
The Euro+Med PlantBase has been sponsored by:
The European Union 5th Framework Programme
The Linnean Society of London
Atlas Florae Europaeae
The Botanical Society of the British Isles
The Euro+Med Editorial Committee
Werner Greuter, Palermo and Berlin
Vernon H. Heywood, Reading
Stephen L. Jury, Reading
Karol Marhold, Bratislava
Pertti Uotila, Helsinki
Benito Valdés, Sevilla