Dr Mark Watson
Dr Mark Watson, Head of Major Floras
I have over 30 years’ experience in floristics, plant systematics, botanical nomenclature and biodiversity informatics. My work is centred on the Sino-Himalayan region, especially Nepal, where I collaborate with international and in-country partners and local communities to generate high quality data and knowledge products to support plant conservation and the sustainable use of plant resources.
Although I specialise on the floristics of Himalayan countries and China, I collaborate with scientists worldwide and have led botanical expeditions to other temperate regions. I also maintain monographic research interests in the plant family Apiaceae (Umbelliferae). During my career I have been an author and editor for Flora of Bhutan (completed 2002), and an author and member of the International Editorial Board of the Flora of China (completed 2013). Currently I am Editor-in-Chief of the Flora of Nepal and Associate Editor-in-Chief of Flora of the Pan Himalaya. My major responsibilities include: managerial and leadership roles; project development, funding and delivery; international partnership development, diplomacy and advocacy; and floristic and botanical history research. I am active in the international governance of botanical nomenclature and in the application of biodiversity informatics for the digital management of floristic data. Virtually all the projects I am involved being ‘born digital’, and I play a lead role in the World Flora Online.
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 Nepal and India (e.g. Francis Buchanan-Hamilton and Nathaniel Wallich), interpreting and mobilizing their data as a foundation for botanical research.
- Complete the Flora of Nepal through traditional ‘taxon-based’ approaches and ‘demand-led’ treatments of user-led priority groups, such as medicinal plants.
- 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.
Selected publications since 2010
Watson, M. (2019). Botany and the Buddha: the plants of Lumbini. In Anon. The Sacred Garden of Nepal, UNESCO: Paris (pp: 153-171).
Noltie, H.J. & Watson, M.F. (2019). The Buchanan-Hamilton collection of botanical drawings at the Linnean Society of London. Marg 70: 81-4.
Plunkett, G.M., Pimenov, M.G., Reduron, J.-P., Kljuykov, E.V., van Wyk, B.-E., Ostroumova, T.A., Henwood, M.J., Tilney, P.M., Spalik, K., Watson, M.F., Lee, B.-Y., Pu, F.-D., Webb, C.J., Hart, J.M., Mitchell, A.D. & Muchensturm, B. (2018). Apiaceae. In Kadereit, J. & Bittrich, V. (eds) The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants, vol. 15. Springer: Cham, Switzerland (pp. 9-206).
Lowther, D., Sylph, A. & Watson, M.F. (2019). Brian Hodgson’s Tibetan Mastiffs: twice presented to the Zoological Society of London. Archives of Natural History, 46: 220-229.
Watson, M.F. & Rai, S.K. (2019). Botany and the Buddha: the plants of Lumbini. In UNESCO, The Sacred Garden of Lumbini. UNESCO: Paris. pp. 151-171.Watson, M.F. (2017). Linnean Society Collections and Britain Nepal 200. Linnean 33(2): 7-8.
Trias-Blasi, A., Parnell, J.A.N., Watson, M.F. (2017). Nomenclatural notes on species of Asian Vitaceae. Taxon 66: 718-733
Watson, M.F. (2016). 19th Century Pioneers of Nepalese Biodiversity, Linnean Society Pulse, 29: 6-7.
Watson, M.F. and Noltie, H,J. (2016). Career, Collections, Reports and Publications of Dr Francis Buchanan (later Hamilton), 1762–1829: Natural History Studies in Nepal, Burma (Myanmar), Bangladesh and India. Part 1. Annals of Science.
Pendry, C., Watson, M.F. and Rajbhandari, K. (2015). History of the scientific exploration of the Nepalese flora. In. Miehe, G., Pendry, C.A. and Chaudhary, R. Nepal: an introduction to the natural history, ecology and human environment of the Himalayas. Edinburgh: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. pp.135-140.
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.
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.
Watson, M.F. (2014). Dr Francis Buchanan-Hamilton: pioneer for Nepalese Biodiversity. In 200 years of Nepal-UK relations, Commemorative Issue, Nepal Embassy, London January 2014, pp. 13-18.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Linnean Society of London, Council Member (2009-2012, 2016-2020, 2021-)
Linnean Society of London, Treasurer (2018-2020)
Linnean Society of London, Collections Committee (2016-)
Darwin Expert Committee Member, UK Government Darwin Initiative (2016-)
International Editorial Committee Member, Flora of China (1994-2014)
Editor-in-Chief, Flora of Nepal (2003-)
Associate Editor-in-Chief, Flora of the Pan Himalaya (2013-)
Co-Chair, World Flora Online Technical Working Group (2015-2017)
Co-Chair, World Flora Online Taxonomic Working Group (2017-)
Britain Nepal Society, Committee Member (2012-)
- Project websites
Honorary Fellow, Linnean Society of London (2021)
Honorary Member, Botanical Society of Nepal (2019)
Presentation of the Ambassador’s Khukuri, Nepal Embassy, UK (2017)
Charity Award, Nepal Scotland Association (2015)
Certificate of Appreciation, Government of Nepal, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation (2014)
Certificate of Appreciation, Government of Nepal, Nepal Embassy, UK (2014)
Dr Patrick Neill Medal, Royal Caledonia Horticultural Society (2013)
- Dr Bhaskar Adhikari, Flora of Nepal Researcher
- Dr Roger Hyam, Biodiversity Data Systems Developer
- Dr Henry Noltie, Research Associate
- Dr Colin Pendry, Editor of Flora of Nepal
- Dr Alan Elliott, bioinformatician
- Claire Banks, Botanical Illustrator
- Dr Gail Stott, CMEP Researcher
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