South Africa : serious about biodiversity science

Cherry, Michael (2005-05)

The original publication is available at http://www.plosbiology.org

Article

In 1772, Carolus Linnaeus wrote a letter, now oft-quoted, to Ryk Tulbagh, the Governor of the Cape—in which he envied Tulbagh’s “sovereign control of that Paradise on Earth, the Cape of Good Hope, which the benefi cent Creator has enriched with his choicest wonders”. Two and a half centuries later, South Africa’s biodiversity remains a great source of interest to the scientifi c community—and for good reason. Plant biodiversity, with over 20 000 different species, is in the foreground: South Africa, which comprises less than 1% of the world’s land surface, contains 8% of its plant species. Perhaps less well known is that the country also contains 7% of all bird, mammal, and reptile species, and 15% of known coastal marine species.

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