IMAGES: Island of Disappearing Flora

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Science  12 Sep 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5639, pp. 1449
DOI: 10.1126/science.301.5639.1449d

China's Hainan Island nurtures an estimated 13,500 plant species, including this graceful orchid Arundina stenopetala. But the unique plants of this biodiversity hot spot are under pressure from a sprawling human population, deforestation, and invasive weeds. Biflora, a new taxonomic database sponsored by Bicoll Biotechnology of Shanghai and the German Investment and Development Company (DEG), aims to document the island's little-known and imperiled plants for researchers, teachers, and decision-makers. The site has just sprouted and offers a handful of species accounts so far, mainly written by Chinese scientists, with more to come.

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