Looking for the right tree for the right place? Agroforestry Species Switchboard Version 2

Faidherbia parkland in Malawi. Photo: World Agroforestry/Tracy Beedy

The updated Agroforestry Species Switchboard is a ‘one-stop shop’ to retrieve data about plant species across a wide range of information sources.

The Switchboard supports research into trees and for tree-based development, such as agroforestry planting and wider restoration. Version 1.4 of the Switchboard has been updated to Version 2.

Nine new databases have been included: eHALOPH, Feedipedia, GRIN’s World Economic Plants, Global Register of Introduced and Invasive Species, World List of Plants with Extrafloral Nectaries, Global Species Matrix, GlobalTreeSearch, Plants of the World online, The PLANTS database).

The Switchboard now includes hybrids and plant names at infra-specific levels and the number of species (excluding synonyms and orthographic errors or variants) has increased from 30,542 in version 1.4 to 172,395 in the new version. Completely new are 3979 plant names at intra-specific level. The number of hyperlinks to confirmed documentation of a particular plant in a database has increased from 240,157 in version 1.4 to 313,563 in version 2.

A photo of Leucaena trichandra. Get the latest information on this and other tree species from the multiple databases listed on the new Agroforestry Species Switchboard.

When preparing the new version, all data on species and hyperlinks was collated afresh in the second half of 2018 (PROSEA has only come back online in 2019 and could therefore not be included among the databases with confirmed species assemblages, however, information is available for most and possibly all its species via the ‘search’ function). After the new compilation of plant names, all species names were rechecked for spellings and taxonomical status via the latest version of The Plant List (and via the Taxonomic Name Resolution Service and the GlobalTreeSearch for species that could not be verified by The Plant List).

The layout of the Switchboard has been completely revised to both conform to the style of ICRAF’s new website and be in a format that is friendlier to devices with smaller screen sizes such as smart phones or tablets. The new version now only shows links to a database if that database has information on that particular plant. Different to the previous version, the Switchboard now provides more than one link to a database in cases where a database had different entries for synonyms of the same species. Also new is that immediately after the species’ names, details and hyperlinks are given to the sources that were consulted when checking the names. Confirmed authorities of botanical names are provided after the species when these are available. Given the seriousness of biosecurity risks, documentation in three databases dedicated to invasive species was brought to the fore, showing these links in a separate tab.

The team are continuing to make improvements to the Switchboard, such as checking all species of PROSEA and making a links to a new food-tree nutrition database that ICRAF is building.

Comments about the Switchboard can be sent to switchboard@cgiar.org.

 Visit the Switchboard here

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World Agroforestry (ICRAF) is a centre of scientific and development excellence that harnesses the benefits of trees for people and the environment. Knowledge produced by ICRAF enables governments, development agencies and farmers to utilize the power of trees to make farming and livelihoods more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable at multiple scales. ICRAF is one of the 15 members of the CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. We thank all donors who support research in development through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.

Rob Finlayson

Robert Finlayson is the Southeast Asia program's regional communications specialist. As well as writing stories for the Centre's website, he devises and supervises strategies for projects and the countries in the Southeast Asia region, including scripting and producing videos, supervising editors and translators and also assisting with resource mobilization.

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