9400888 Beaman Taxonomic databases accessible by international networks are being developed for all vascular plants in the flora of Mount Kinabalu in the Malaysian state of Sabah in northern Borneo. The specimen database now includes more than 20,000 specimens that have been examined by the PI. Kinabalu has been said to have the richest flora in the world. This contention is supported by a database that includes some 4,500 species. Much of the flora is threatened with imminent destruction, but only about 30% of it has thus far been documented in enumerations by the PI and collaborators. An enumeration will be produced of the remaining 70% of the flora, about 3,150 species. The enumeration will cite type specimens and synonyms, characterize the habit, habitat and elevational distribution of each species, and list specimens examined. An index will be provided to collections cited. The databases will contribute to international efforts to preserve endangered species and exceptionally rich ad unique plant communities. A geographical information system (GIS) will be used to produce a map of Mount Kinabalu that documents locations where all specimens have been collected and shows the names of streams, rivers, other landforms, and settlements. Satellite imagery and global positioning system (GPS) data will make it possible to show the locations of major and minor roads. The imagery will also be used to interpret the occurrence of ultramafic substrates, vegetation types, primary and secondary forests and vegetation associated with human activites. Surface modeling techniques will be used to predict where taxa occur in unexplored areas, based on the topographic and edaphic characteristics of where they are known to occur. Biogeographic relationships among ultramafic areas on Mount Kinabalu and other ultramafic outcrops in Boreno will be analyzed in the context of phylogenetic relationships among ultramafic and non-ultramafic taxa. The GIS will also facilitate integrating taxonomic, ethno botanical and phytochemical databases into Kinabalu Park activities and monitoring aspects such as ecotourism development and illegal harvesting activities. Mount Kinabalu is one of the youngest mountains in the world, and its flora includes large numbers of closely related species that appear to be neo-endemics. A major reason for the species-rich flora appears related to special edaphic conditions (ultramafic substrates), frequently occurring droughts that result in selection of well-adapted genotypes, and small plant populations with limited gene flow because of the precipitous topography. Three genera (Dendrochilum, Orchidaceae; Elatostema, Urticacea; Polyosma, Grossulariaceae) will be analyzed by cladistic and GIS techniques in an effort to trace evolutionary lineages in groups of closely related species that may have undergone recent speciation, which may be correlated with local edaphic and topographic features. The Dendrochilum data set will be obtained from sequence analysis of the nuclear 18-26S rDNA ITS region. An ethnobotanical survey, closely linked to the floristic inventory, is being made to determine how the local Dusun people classify and use the flora. Dusun collaborators are making extensive collections of useful plants in their communities and are entering ethnobotanical information in a computerized database housed at Kinabalu Park headquarters. This project is helping researchers and Park personnel to identify culturally significant plant resources and to detect which useful species are most vulnerable to over-harvesting or habitat destruction. In addition, the survey is strengthening the link between the Park and local communities, enriching interpretive programs that serve the 200,000 annual visitors to the Park, and facilitating assessment of the subsistence and commercial value of native plants. The project will serve as a basis for Ph.D. dissertations by two Malaysian graduate students, one botanical and concerning the floristics and ecology of a presently une xplored region of Mount Kinabalu, the other applying GIS approaches to a study of the small mammal fauna of the mountain. Two American graduate students will prepare Ph.D. dissertation concerning biogeography, evolution, and speciation in the flora. Another American student will base his masters thesis in geography on the use of a Landsat image for determining occurrence of ultramafic substrates that appear to have great biological significance.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Environmental Biology (DEB)
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Douglas Siegel-Causey
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Michigan State University
East Lansing
United States
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