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Botanists launch the largest online database of Czech flora and vegetation

Photo: Aleš Zvára

All available information about the current distribution of specific plant species in the territory of the Czech Republic, their properties, ecological requirements, and integration into plant communities is now freely accessible at www.pladias.cz. Both experts and the general public can use the portal to find reliable information about the diverse Czech flora in one place. The portal was created by experts from the Department of Botany and Zoology at Masaryk University, the Institute of Botany of the Czech Academy of Sciences, the Department of Botany at the University of South Bohemia, and a number of external colleagues.

“We worked on the portal for four years. It is built on a database created in the Pladias centre of excellence, which was a project supported by the Czech Science Foundation. The database uses information from a number of herbaria collections in the Czech Republic, extensive literature sources, botanic databases, and botany field research that has been the work of many decades,” says Milan Chytrý from the Faculty of Science at Masaryk University, who was the project leader.

One of the features of the new website is the interactive maps showing the distribution of vascular plant species that include almost 13 million source data about locations. Pladias.cz also contains a complete classification system of Czech vegetation, photographs and pictures, full versions of the two major Czech botany publications, Květena ČR and Vegetace ČR, as well as downloadable electronic databases and maps.

“The portal gives a complete picture of the diversity of Czech flora and vegetation in one place and serves as a valuable source of information for further research, including the decline of endangered species, changes in the composition of plant communities, and plant invasions. Moreover, all basic information is also available in English and therefore also accessible to international researchers,” emphasises Zdeněk Kaplan from the Institute of Botany of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

Information from www.pladias.cz can also be used by the general public, for example, to check whether they have identified a plant correctly. “However, it is not a traditional key for plant identification; you need to know which species you are looking for and the website lets you check whether you have identified it correctly or whether it can even grow in the place where you found it. It will also give you information about the plant’s properties, photos, and drawings of the whole plant and its parts,” adds Chytrý.

Masaryk university