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Plant collecting spread and densities: their potential impact on biogeographical studies in Thailand


*Correspondence: Herbarium, School of Botany, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland. E-mail:


Aims To produce representative aggregate maps of plant collection locations in Thailand and discuss their impact on biogeographical studies in Thailand and the surrounding region.

Location Thailand.

Methods A representative data set comprising 6593 plant specimen records for Thailand has been assembled. The data set contains ± all known collections for fifteen representative plant families and further records for another 104. All records are localized to Changwat (province), 6441 to at least quarter degree square.

Results Analysis shows that the spread of collecting activity in Thailand is markedly uneven; 20% of collections come from a single Changwat (Chiang Mai) and 53% of Changwat have fifty or fewer collections. The distribution of collections by Changwat and by quarter degree square is erratic with most squares and Changwat having few collections, both in proportionate and absolute terms. Some of the most densely forested Changwats and squares appear undercollected. Distribution maps for common, easily recognized tree species in the genus Syzygium show distributional gaps.

Conclusions Thailand is defined as an undercollected country. Even within the few well-collected quarter degree squares the spread of collecting is still poor; almost all collections being localized to one of three mountain ranges or their foothills. There are many gaps in collecting activity which make impossible a straightforward interpretation of biogeographical pattern. It is argued that targeted collecting activity is needed, that assembly of this type of data set is therefore essential and that our data set and its interpretation is a model for all countries in the region.