Japan is one of the 34 global biodiversity hotspots, as identified by Conservation International. Collectively these areas hold over 50% of all known plant species, yet cover only 2.3% of the Earth's land surface. A new methodology developed in the University of Oxford Department of Biology identifies hotspots based solely on global species distribution. This approach means those parts of a large-scale hotspot particularly rich plant diversity and of global importance for conservation (bioquality) can be identified.
Biodiversity research is a common theme across a number of the University's departments, although much of the plant-based research is to be found in two institutes associated with the Oxford Martin School. The Department of Biology has a hotspot science research interest, based in the Herbaria, through the Plants for the 21st Century Institute. The Biodiversity Institute of Oxford has a research agenda focused on the key challenges for global biodiversity in the 21st Century, facilitating the transition of science into policy, planning and strategy. Bioquality focuses on high conservation value elements of biodiversity, specifically global rarity and taxonomic distinctiveness. To estimate bioquality, species are given Star-ratings based on their global distribution. Bioquality is measured using a globally standardised value called the Genetic Heat Index (GHI). The first Japanese bioquality hotspot maps have been identified for the flora and vegetation of Japan using two independent sources of plant distribution data: the Flora of Japan database and Horikawa dot map data.
The University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum are leading on a project to collect and document the flora of Japan. Wild-origin plant material, herbarium voucher specimens and valuable survey data are being collected to build a unique and comprehensive reference source.
For further information please visit the project website here.