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How free access internet resources benefit biodiversity and conservation research: Trinidad and Tobago's endemic plants and their conservation status

Veerle Van den Eyndena1 c1, Michael P. Oathama1 and Winston Johnsona2

a1 Department of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad, Trinidad and Tobago.

a2 National Herbarium of Trinidad and Tobago, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad, Trinidad and Tobago.

Abstract

Botanists have been urged to help assess the conservation status of all known plant species. For resource-poor and biodiversity-rich countries such assessments are scarce because of a lack of, and access to, information. However, the wide range of biodiversity and geographical resources that are now freely available on the internet, together with local herbarium data, can provide sufficient information to assess the conservation status of plants. Such resources were used to review the vascular plant species endemic to Trinidad and Tobago and to assess their conservation status. Fifty-nine species were found to be endemic, much lower than previously stated. Using the IUCN Red List criteria 18 endemic species were assessed as Critically Endangered, 16 as Endangered, 15 as Vulnerable, three as Near Threatened, and three as Data Deficient (i.e. insufficient data are available to assess their conservation status). Although such rapid assessments cannot replace in depth research, they provide essential baseline information to target research and conservation priorities and identify specific conservation actions.

(Received February 21 2007)

(Reviewed June 08 2007)

(Accepted August 20 2007)

Correspondence:

c1 Department of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad, Trinidad and Tobago. E-mail veerle.eynden@sta.uwi.edu

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