Towards a dynamic list of Amazonian tree species

Hans ter Steege et al (2019). Scientific Reports. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-40101-y

To provide an empirical foundation for estimates of the Amazonian tree diversity, we recently published a checklist of 11,675 tree species recorded to date in the region (ter Steege H, et al. (2016) The discovery of the Amazonian tree flora with an updated checklist of all known tree taxa. Scientific Reports 6:29549). From this total of plant records compiled from public databases and literature, widely used in studies on the Amazonian plant diversity, only 6,727 tree species belong to the first taxonomically-vetted checklist published for the region (Cardoso D, et al. (2017) Amazon plant diversity revealed by a taxonomically verified species list. PNAS 114:10695-10700). The striking difference in these two numbers spurred us to evaluate both lists, in order to release an improved Amazonian tree list; to discuss species inclusion criteria; and to highlight the ecological importance of verifying the occurrence of “non-Amazonian” trees in the region through the localization and identification of specimens. A number of species in the 2016 checklist that are not trees, non-native, synonyms, or misspellings were removed and corresponded to about 23% of the names. Species not included in the taxonomically-vetted checklist but verified by taxonomists to occur in Amazonia as trees were retained. Further, the inclusion of recently recorded/new species (after 2016), and recent taxonomic changes added up to an updated checklist including 10,071 species recorded for the Amazon region and shows the dynamic nature of establishing an authoritative checklist of Amazonian tree species. Completing and improving this list is a long-term, high-value commitment that will require a collaborative approach involving ecologists, taxonomists, and practitioners.

We invite ecologists and taxonomists and all other interested to provide comments to improve the list and keep it up to date.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith