Mittwoch, 23. Juli 2014

Exhibition "The Caucasus: Plant Diversity Between the Black and the Caspian Seas at the Botanical Garden and the Botanical Museum in Berlin-Dahlem

Wall painting, Pomegranates from
the Khan-Palast in Șәki, 18th.c., Aserbaidschan    
Photo by G. Parolly

The Caucasus has a unique diversity of plants and animals, to say nothing of cultures, traditions and peoples. Some of the early research of the Caucasian flora was carried our by the Berlin-based botanists such as Karl Koch. The founder of the first Natural History Museum in Tbilissi, Gustav Radde, had close contacts with Adolf Enlger, the founding Director  of the Botanic Garden in Berlin. It is this long tradition of scientific exchange that has been revived and has resulted in the exhibition The Caucasus: Plant Diversity Between the Black and the Caspian Seas that is on now at the at the Botanical Garden and the Botanical Museum in Berlin. The exhibition will be running till 22. February, 2015.

The exhibition has been prepared thanks to close cooperation with the Institute of Botany of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences and the Yerevan State University, the Institute of Botany of Azerbaijan National Academy  of Sciences and the National Botanical Garden of Georgia  and the Ilia State University, Georgia  as well as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) with the generous support of the Volkswagen Foundation.

 Wine Jar from Georgia, Photo by © C. Hillmann-Huber

The exhibition presents to the audiences the amazing bio-diversity of the Caucasus. It further highlights the scientific research and exchange between the academic institutions involved. The main focus of the research is conservation of the biodiversity of the Caucasus, sustainable development, facilitation of international cooperation.

A major topic for the Armenian research team is the genus Pyrus. More than 35  wild pear species grow in the region , of which a majority occurs in the woodlands of Armenia. These plants are very valuable crops but very difficult from taxonomic point of view. The implemented DNA analysis is therefore very helpful to answer questions concerning reliable diagnostic features of the species which is fundamental  for conservation.

Steppe in Georgia Photo by © N. Köster

In Azerbaijan significant results are achieved in projects dealing with the conservation of the genetic diversity and phylogeography of relict plants such as Zelkova carpinifolia, and the status and population structure of the Hyrcanian endemic species: Gleditsia caspica for example. The modernization of the Herbarium in the Institute of Botany in Baku was initiated by the project and subsequently a local state fund allowed for fully changing the infrastructure of the most significant herbarium of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Wild Goats in Armenia, Photo by © Alexander Malkhasyan

Georgia, although a small country has remarkably diverse vegetation. A National Action Plan for Biodiversity Conservation has been developed. Existing national parks have been complemented by new  protected areas to make up a country-wide system. The National Botanical Garden of Georgia, the Institute of Botany, Ilia State University have started a partnership with the Botanic Garden and the Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem, building upon the historical connections between botanists in Berlin and Tbililsi.

Winter in Georgia Photo by © Aurel Heidelberg

Exhibition "The Caucasus: Plant Diversity Between the Black and the Caspian Seas" at the Botanical Garden and the Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem will be running till February 22, 2015. For more information on the exhibition and the related events, please, check the exhibition webpage:

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