Rapid Botanic Survey, Bioquality and improving botanical inventory in the tropics by integrating across spatial scales
We review the Rapid Botanic Survey method (RBS), in the context of botanical recording to date. The concept of bioquality, a biodiversity value respecting global rarity, is summarised. Bioquality assessment involves the Star system for categorising species by global rarity; and a Genetic Heat Index (GHI) which aggregates Stars into community scores. All vascular plant species in tropical Africa have Stars, and >3.1 million botanical records have been databased across the continent (Marshall et al., 2016). Presented here are updated bioquality scores from continental tropical Africa, and especially coastal East Africa, and calculated for sample units of various shapes and sizes: East African Flora regions, one degree squares, forest reserves, to fine scale (sample-level) hotspots along the East African coast. GHI is globally standardised and has been calculated for survey data outside Africa, though seldom in tropical Asia. RBS data can also be used to distinguish vegetation types and can include ethnobotanical data. It is recommended as a way to standardise biodiversity or environmental Impact assessment nationally and globally, and for integrating such survey results in databases that will be increasingly useful as the tension between conservation and deforestation increases, and the climate changes.