Grasses are everywhere. More than half of Madagascar is grassland with more than 500 endemic, native, or alien species of Poaceae, the family of grasses. Unfortunately, most specimens are kept in France in the vascular plant collections of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (MNHN), not practically available to Madagascan researchers and other stakeholders as internet connections are generally too slow to download the specimen records with images.
In the first step of this project, the MNHN herbarium will deliver the relevant specimen images on hard drives to staff at the Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre (KMCC) who in turn will train project officers and colleagues from Parc Botanique et Zoologique de Tsimbazaza (TAN) and MadBIF in the use of the BRAHMS management system, as well as georeferencing, and data quality control.
The project officers will create a BRAHMS database of every collection with maximally accurate location data. Working with project partners at the University of Oxford, the team will develop a protocol to transfer data between the RECOLNAT system at MNHN and the local BRAHMS database to return data to the specimen holding institution. The team will also publish updated records to GBIF.org using a process already developed for RECOLNAT, with additional uploads carried out by MadBIF and RBG Kew for their specimens.
Using the published data on native species, the project will compile the Grass Atlas of Madagascar. This Atlas will enable KMCC to develop a conservation strategy for valuable endemic grasses, and protected areas with grasslands. The University of Antananarivo will facilitate two Alien Grass National Strategy Workshops. The formulation of the Alien Grass National Strategy will enable identification of invasive species and future management of invasion risks.