Mark Watson

Head of Major Floras




Phone: +44 (0)131 248 2828

My research focus is on floristics and fieldwork in the Sino-Himalayan region and monographic studies on the plant family Apiaceae (Umbelliferae). This has included the author and editor for Flora of Bhutan (completed 2002), author and member of the Editorial Board of the Flora of China (completed 2013), member of the Editorial Board of Flora of the Pan Himalayan Region (ongoing) and author and Editor-in-Chief of the Flora of Nepal (ongoing). Major responsibilities include: managerial and leadership roles (Head of RBGE’s Major Floras Research Programme); project development, funding and delivery; international partnership development; and floristic and botanical history research. I am also active in biodiversity informatics research and virtually all the projects I am involved in are ‘born digital’ with a digital information management system at the core.

My research aims to:

  • Lead in the innovative development of e-Floras through Flora of Nepal (a pioneer ‘born digital’ Flora) and global initiatives such as World Flora Online and the Flora of the Pan Himalaya.
  • Understand and open up the work of historical collectors in India and Nepal (e.g. Francis Buchanan-Hamilton and Nathaniel Wallich), interpreting and mobilizing their data as a foundation for taxonomic research.
  • Complete the Flora of Nepal through traditional ‘taxon-based’ approaches and ‘demand-led’ treatments of user-led priority groups.
  • Integrate high quality, scientific data into international development programmes – empowering local communities to make the right livelihood choices.

Take an active role in the ‘modernisation’ of botanical nomenclature, through Special Committees on e-Publication, Registration, etc.

Measures of Esteem:

Royal Caledonia Horticultural Society Dr Patrick Neill (2013)

Certificate of Appreciation, Government of Nepal, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation (2014)

Certificate of Appreciation, Government of Nepal, Nepal Embassy, UK (2014)

Nepal Scotland Association Charity Award (2015)

Council of the Linnean Society of London (2009-2012)

Editorial Committee, Flora of China (1994-2014)

Editorial Committee, Pan Himalayan Flora (2013-)

Co-Chair, World Flora Online Technical Working Group (2015-)

Selected publications (post 2000)

Watson, M.F., Lyal, C.H.C. and Pendry, C.A. (2015). Descriptive Taxonomy: the foundation of biodiversity research. The Systematics Association Special Volume, 84. Cambridge University Press.

Watson, M.F, Miller, A.G., Pullan, M.R., Pendry, C.A. and Knees, S.G. (2015), Advancements in electronic data capture for botanical field research. In Watson, M.F., Lyal, C.H.C. and Pendry, C.A., Descriptive Taxonomy: the foundation of biodiversity research. The Systematics Association Special Volume, 84. Cambridge University Press (pp. 226-244).

Miller, A.G., M. Hall, Watson, M.F, Knees, S.G., Pendry, C.A. and Pullan, M.R. (2015), Floras yesterday, today and tomorrow. In Watson, M.F., Lyal, C.H.C. and Pendry, C.A., Descriptive Taxonomy: the foundation of biodiversity research. The Systematics Association Special Volume, 84. Cambridge University Press (pp. 11-23).

Trias-Blasi, A., Watson, M.F., Chayamarit, K. & Parnell, J.A.N. (2015). Typification of two newly recorded species of Ampelocissus (Vitaceae) for Thailand. Phytotaxa 212(2): 149-156.

Saslis-Lagoudakis, C.H., Hawkins, J.A., Greenhill, S.J., Pendry, C.A., Watson, M.F., Tuladhar-Douglas. W., Baral, S.R. and Savolainen, V. (2014). The evolution of traditional knowledge: environment shapes medicinal plant use in Nepal. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: 281, 20132768, published 12 February 2014.

Miller, J.S., Thomas, W.W., Watson, M.F., Simpson, D. & Wyse Jackson (2014). World Flora Online council met in St. Petersburg. Taxon, 63: 959.

Shilling, A. & Watson, M.F. (2014). Two Mahonia species in Nepal – confusions clarified. The Plantsman, June 2014. 94-100.

Banasiak, Ł, Piwczy, M., Ulinski, T., Downie, S.R., Watson, M.F., Shakya, B. and Spalik, K. (2013). Dispersal patterns in space and time: a case study of Apiaceae subfamily Apioideae. Journal of Biogeography, 20: 1324-1335.

Hu Chi-ming & Watson, M.F. (2013). Plant Exploration in China. In. Hong De-yuan & Blackmore, S. Plants of China: A companion to the Flora of China. Science Press; Beijing. pp. 212-235.

Watson, M.F. (2013). Dr Francis Buchanan-Hamilton: Pioneer for Nepalese Biodiversity. Journal of the Britain Nepal Society, 37: 31-37.

Saslis-Lagoudakisa, C.H., Savolainen, V., Williamson, E.M., Forest, F., Wagstaff, S.J., Baral, S.R., Watson, M.F., Pendry, C.A., Hawkins, J., (2012). Phylogenies reveal predictive power of traditional medicine in bioprospecting. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109 (39): 15835-15840.

Watson, M.F., Akiyama, S., Ikeda, H., Pendry, C.A., Rajbhandari, K.R., and Shrestha, K.K. (eds.) (2011). Flora of Nepal, 3. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. [including co-authorship on family accounts for Cruciferae, Droseraceae, Hamamelidaceae, Moringaceae, Myristicaceae, Pittosporaceae, Rosaceae and Saxifragaceae.]

Watson, M.F., (2011). Edward Gardner – lost but now found. Britain Nepal Society Journal, 35: 9-10.

Watson, M. F., Pendry, C. A., and Ikeda, H. (2010). Publication of Flora of Nepal. In: Ikeda, H. and Noshiro, S. (eds.), HIMALAYA Hotspot of Biodiversity --50th Anniversary of Botanical Research in the Himalayas by the University of Tokyo, pp. 75--96. The University Museum, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo.

Chapman, A.D., Turland, N.J., and Watson, M.F. (2010). Report of the Special Committee on Electronic Publication. Taxon 59: 1853-1862.

Knees, S., Miller, A., Alfarhan, A. and Watson, M. (2010). Current knowledge of Umbelliferae in the Arabian Peninsula, preparation for a floristic treatment. Plant Development and Evolution, 128: 539-545.

Yano, O., Ikeda, H., Watson, M.F., Rajbhandari, K.R., and Ohba, H. (2010). Cytological studies on Cyperaceae in the Nepal Himalaya 1. Chromosome counts of 14 species collected from the Manaslu Himalaya, Central Nepal. Journal of Japanese Botany 85: 157-165.

Ronse, A.C., Popper, Z.A., Preston, J.C., and Watson, M.F. (2010). Taxonomic revision of European Apium L. s.l.: Helosciadium W.D.J.Koch restored. Plant Systematics and Evolution 287: 1-17.

Spalik, K., Downie, S.R. and Watson, M.F. (2009). Generic delimitations within the Sium alliance (Apiaceae tribe Oenanatheae) inferred from cpDNA rps16-5’trnK(uuu) and nrDNA ITS sequences. Taxon, 58: 735-748.

Mendoza, M, and Watson, M.F., 2008. Four new species of Eryngium L. (Apiaceae) from the inter-Andean dry valleys of Boliva. Candollea, 63: 5-16

Liu, Q.R. and Watson, M. F., 2008. Oxalidaceae: pp 1-6. In: Wu, Z. Y., Raven, P. H. (eds.), Flora of China, 11. Science Press, Beijing & Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Saint Louis.

Manandhar, V.K. and Watson, M.F., 2008. Sorbus L. (Rosaceae). Fascicle of Flora of Nepal Volume 3 Part 10). HMG Nepal, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation. Department of Plant Resources. Kathmandu, Nepal.

Watson, M.F., 2008. Edward Gardner - the Lost Botanist. Britain Nepal Society Journal, 32: 18-22.

Ajani, Y., Ajani, A., Cordes, J.M., Watson, M.F. and Downie, S.R., 2008. Phylogenetic analysis of nrDNA ITS sequences reveals relationships within five groups of Iranian Apiaceae subfamily Apioideae. Taxon, 57(2): 1-19.

Pendry, C.A., Dick, J., Pullan, M.R., Knees, S.G., Miller, A.G., Neale, S., and Watson, M.F., 2007. In search of a functional Flora - towards a greater integration of ecology and taxonomy. Plant Ecology 192: 161-167.

Neale, S.H., Pullan, M.R. and Watson, M.F., 2007. Online Biodiversity Resources - Principles for Usability. Biodiversity Informatics, 4: 1546-9735.

Watson, M.F., 2007. The Ambassador's Dawn Redwood. Britain Nepal Society Journal, 31: 16-19.

Knapp, S., Polaszek, A. and Watson,M.F., 2007. Spreading the Word. Nature 446: 261-262.

Knapp, S., Wilson, K. and Watson, M.F., 2006.  Electronic Publication. Taxon 55(1): 2-3.

Turland, N.J. and Watson, M.F., 2005. Second Report of the Special Committee on Suprageneric Names: family names listings in Appendix IIB of the Code. Taxon, 54: 491-499.

Pullan, M.R., Armstrong, K., Paterson, T., Cannon, A., Kennedy, J.B., Watson, M.F. and MCDONALD, S.M., 2005. The Prometheus Description Model: an examination of the taxonomic description building process and its representation. Taxon, 54: 751-765.

Rajbhandari, K.R.and Watson, M.F, 2005. Rhododendrons of Nepal. Fascicle of Flora of Nepal Volume 5 Part 6). HMG Nepal, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation. Department of Plant Resources. Kathmandu, Nepal.

Sheh, M.L., Pu, F.D., Pan, Z.H., Watson, M. F., Cannon, J. F. M., Holmes-Smith, I., Kljuykov, E. V., Phillippe, L. R., and Pimenov, M. G. (2005). Apiaceae (Umbelliferae): pp 1-205. In: Wu, Z. Y., Raven, P. H. (eds.), Flora of China, 14. Science Press, Beijing & Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Saint Louis.

Watson, M.F., Sheh, M.L., Pu, F.D. and Pan, Z.H., (2004). Nomenclatural Novelties in the Apiaceae (Umbelliferae) for the Flora of China. Acta Phytotaxonomica Sinica, 42(6): 561-565.

Turland, N.J. and Watson, M.F., (2004). Report of the Special Committee on Suprageneric Names. Taxon, 53(4): 1081-1089.

Watson, M. F., and Smith, A., (2004). The Umbellifers of Burma: the last piece in the Asian puzzle. South African Journal of Botany 70(3): 427-432.

Hardway, T., Spalik, K., Watson, M.F., Katz-Downie, D.S. and Downie, S.R., (2004). Circumscription of Apiaceae tribe Oenantheae. South African Journal of Botany, 70(3): 393-406.

Cannon, A., Kennedy, J.B., Paterson, T. and Watson, M.F. (2004). Ontology-Driven Automated Generation of Data Entry Interfaces to Databases. British National Conference on Databases 2004: 150-164.

Neves, S. and Watson, M.F., (2004). Phylogenetic relationships in Bupleurum (Apiaceae) based on nuclear ribosomal DNA ITS sequence data. Annals of Botany, 93: 379-398.

Raguenaud, C., Pullan, M.R., Watson, M.F., Kennedy, J.B., Newman, M.F. and Barclay, P.J., (2002) Implementation of the Prometheus Taxonomic Model: a comparison of database systems. Taxon, 51: 131-142.

GRAHAM, M., WATSON, M.F. & KENNEDY, J.B., (2002). Novel visualisation techniques for working with multiple, overlapping classification hierarchies. Taxon, 51: 351-358.

Watson, M.F., (2001). The contribution of floristic and monographic studies to a comprehensive world umbellifer dataset. Edinburgh Journal of Botany, 58: 357-370.

Radford, E.A., Watson, M.F., and Preston, J. (2001). Phylogenetic relationships of species of Aciphylla (Apiaceae subfamily Apioideae) and related genera using molecular, morphological and combined data sets. New Zealand Journal of Botany, 39: 183-208.

Watson, M.F., Plunkett, G.M., Downie, S.R. and Lowry II, P.P., (2001). Introduction: Evolution, biogeography, and systematics of the Apiales (Araliaceae and Apiaceae). Edinburgh Journal of Botany, 58: 179-181.

Downie, S.R., Plunkett, G.M., Watson, M.F., et al., (2001). Tribes and clades within Apiaceae subfamily Apioideae: the contribution of molecular data. Edinburgh Journal of Botany, 58: 301-330.

Downie, S.R., Katz-Downie, D.S. and Watson, M.F., (2000). A Phylogeny of the Flowering Plant Family Apiaceae Based on Chloroplast DNA rpl16 and rpoC1 Intron Sequences: towards a suprageneric classification of subfamily Apioideae. American Journal of Botany, 87: 273-292.

Pullan, M.R., Watson, M.F., Kennedy, J.B., Raguenaud, C. and Hyam, R., (2000). The Prometheus Taxonomic Model: a practical approach to representing multiple classifications. Taxon, 49: 55-75.

Downie, S.R., Watson, M.F., Spalik, K, and Katz-Downie, D.S., (2000). Molecular Systematics of Old World Apioideae (Apiaceae): relationships among some members of tribe Peucedaneae sensu lato, and the placement of several island-endemic species, and resolution within the apioid superclade. Canadian Journal of Botany, 78: 506-528.

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