By Dr. Robert Naczi and Heather Barrett
Through his research to document the diversity and conservation status of Belizean sedges, Dr. Robert Naczi of New York Botanical Garden recently discovered a species of beaksedge previously unknown to science. In Belize, the Sedge Family (Cyperaceae) is one of the five largest (most species-rich) plant families. Beaksedges (genus Rhynchospora) are a diverse and ecologically important group of flowering plants, especially in the tropics. Beaksedges constitute the largest genus of plants in Belize, with 53 species.
When a scientist formally publishes a new species in order to make it known to the world, the new scientific name is one of the most exciting parts of the publication. This name becomes the means of communicating about the species throughout the world. Because this name will be permanent and must be unique, its formation is very important and provides an opportunity to be creative.
The fact the new species of beaksedge is unnamed presents an opportunity. Dr. Naczi has generously offered to donate the naming rights to BFREE to support our spring fundraising. Therefore, from Earth Day until Arbor Day (donations made in response to this eNews will also be included), any donation of $100.00 or more will be entered into a raffle to win the opportunity to name the beaksedge. The minimum value of this naming opportunity has been set by Dr. Naczi at $15,000.00 with all proceeds going towards BFREE’s conservation programs. For every $100.00 you donate, your name is entered into the raffle one time. The more you donate, the more chances you have to win! To donate today, click here.
Note: The fundraiser must reach its minimum goal of $15,000 for the raffle to occur.
The new species is remarkable in several ways. It is known only from Belize, and increases the number of known plant species restricted to Belize to 42, highlighting the importance of Belize as a biodiversity hotspot. Also, this new species belongs to a group of species most diverse in the eastern U.S.A. In fact, this new species is the only member of this group that is restricted to the tropics. Its occurrence in Belize is completely unexpected, but Belize is full of surprises!
Botanical drawing of the newly identified Beaksedge – Copyright Bobbi Angell