Plant Diversity and Distributions
Patterns of Plant Diversity and Distribution


CCSD is advancing the understanding of patterns of plant diversity and distribution through studies that integrate plant occurrence data accumulated by Garden botanists over many years with other types of information such as phylogenies and geographic environmental data. These studies revolve around two broad themes. 

  • The description of spatial and temporal patterns of plant diversity and distribution, including patterns of species richness, rarity, and turnover (beta-diversity). These patterns determine the ways in which limited resources for the conservation of biodiversity should be distributed to accomplish or maximize conservation goals, such as protecting a given set of taxa (or, following other biodiversity metrics, protecting phylogenetic diversity).


  • The investigation of the ecological and evolutionary processes underlying spatial and temporal patterns of plant diversity and distribution. Conserving biodiversity implies conserving biological processes responsible for biodiversity patterns. Awareness of those processes is essential for their conservation and management.


          Changes in diversity and species turnover across elevations in the Madidi region

Assessments of the Conservation Status of Plant Species


CCSD is conducting a species-by-species conservation analysis of the entire flora of Nicaragua. The Garden’s publication of a complete, modern Flora of the country in 2001, with an associated database of more than 120,000 records that includes most of the plant specimens ever collected in Nicaragua, gave the country an unprecedented opportunity to evaluate and act on the conservation of its diverse flora. In carrying out the analysis, CCSD scientists are using the database to identify candidate species for conservation, evaluate the present distribution of these species with respect to currently protected areas, and make recommendations for their preservation. After identifying the species of greatest conservation concern using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria, they are studying the species that fall within the IUCN threat categories on the ground, one by one. The most critically endangered species will be considered for ex situ conservation.