Gunnar Seidenfaden and his heritage: developments in the diversity and organization of Thai orchid studies
Keywords:Data-sharing, Flora of Thailand, Gunnar Seidenfaden, networking, Orchidaceae
Modern Thai orchidology was initiated by Seidenfaden & Smitinand’s The Orchids of Thailand: a Preliminary List (1959–1965). Until the end of his career, Seidenfaden maintained a leading position with regard to taxonomic research in the orchids of Thailand (although from 1992 he became more focused on neighbouring regions), and contributions from other orchidologists were sparse. Despite Seidenfaden’s eventually decreasing number of publications on Thai orchids, no less than 50 appeared in 1998–2007 compared to 24 in 1988–1997.
Correspondingly, 49 authors contributed in 1998–2007 compared to 21 in 1988–1997, and the share of Thai authors increased from 24 % to 46 %. At present, at least four PhD students, 11 MSc students and 42 professional or retired biologists in Thailand are doing research on Thai orchids. The number of publication categories has gradually grown from four in 1958–1967 to nine in 1997–2008, and also the publication activity among nonprofessionals has increased considerably. The recent developments challenge our ability to organize ongoing Thai orchid research as team work. Establishment of a research group to prepare the Flora of Thailand account, planned online access to the Seidenfaden Database and establishment of the Native Thai Orchid Network are examples of initiatives that serve to promote data-sharing, collaboration and creation of interdisciplinary synergy.