Examples of the floral diversity in the family Proteaceae: top Leucadendron tinctum and above Mimetes argenteus top Protea cynaroides and above Leucospermum erubescens. The Protea Atlas Project has been a Kirstenbosch initiative since its inception in September 1990. With a small in-house team, but with hundreds of volunteer field workers, Tony Rebelo has amassed what is probably the biggest, most accurate, geo-referenced database of information on the distribution and abundance of any single family of plants, anywhere. This unique database, linked as it is to detailed environmental information on climate, soils, altitude, slope and aspect, provides the statistical modeller with a mother lode of information for developing and testing ideas on the responses of species to changes in environmental factors.
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John Phillip Harison Acocks (1911-1979) authored the classic study on Veld Types of South Africa, which served the country as a benchmark for 50 years.
A major thrust of the NBI’s Stress Ecology Research Group (first based at the University of Cape Town as the Experimental Ecology Group, and then at the newly completed Kirstenbosch Research Centre), was the careful computerisation of the extensive plant ecological records of John Acocks, author of the classic Veld Types of South Africa. This invaluable data set enabled SANBI to produce a spatially clear national assessment of the vulnerability and adaptation of plant biodiversity to climate change.
Many of the recent advances in our understanding of the patterns of threat to our endemic species, and of trends and impacts of climate change, are due to the inherent value of good information on plant and animal distribution. Information management, and in particular the dissemination of biodiversity information, is now a primary objective of SANBI researchers.
Cycads, the plants that lived with dinosaurs
Cycads are the oldest of seed plants, found through 280 million years of the fossil record.