The first two fellows in the inaugural Half-Earth Project Fellowship in Taxonomy and Biodiversity Exploration have graduated from their advanced taxonomic training at the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Laboratory in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, a “Place for a Half-Earth Future.” Francisca de Andicene and Mousere Rodrigues spent approximately 11 weeks working with Dr. Petra Ballings and Bart Wursten from the Meise Botanic Garden in Belgium.
During that time they learned a great deal about the process of species discovery and description and studied the rules of the International Botanical Code of Nomenclature. They were trained in proper herbarium techniques, specimen databasing, and GIS. About 25% of their time involved working in the field collecting specimens, which they then processed, identified, preserved, and accessioned into the Gorongosa Synoptic Collection.
Both Mozambicans, Francisca and Mousere, are returning home to put the newly acquired skills into practice. Francisca will continue her floristic research in Cabo Delgado Province as she finishes her degree at Lurio University in Pemba, while Mousere hopes to initiate botanical surveys in Manica Province where he worked as a forestry engineer.
Dr. Piotr Naskrecki, Scientific Chair of the Half-Earth Project and Executive Director of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Laboratory at Gorongosa said, “We now have two well-trained botanists who will use their skills to collect high-quality botanical data, helping with conservation efforts in the country.”