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Citation: Desmet P, Brouillet L (2013) Database of Vascular Plants of Canada (VASCAN): a community contributed taxonomic checklist of all vascular plants of Canada, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and Greenland. PhytoKeys 25: 55–67. doi: 10.3897/phytokeys.25.3100 Resource ID: GBIF key: 3f8a1297-3259-4700-91fc-acc4170b27ce
Resource citation: Brouillet L, Desmet P, Coursol F, Meades SJ, Favreau M, Anions M, Bélisle P, Gendreau C, Shorthouse D and contributors
* see Appendix.
The article is also available on GitHub at https://github.com/peterdesmet/vascan-data-paper
The Database of Vascular Plants of Canada or VASCAN (http://data.canadensys.net/vascan) is a comprehensive and curated checklist of all vascular plants reported in Canada, Greenland (Denmark), and Saint Pierre and Miquelon (France). VASCAN was developed at the Université de Montréal Biodiversity Centre and is maintained by a group of editors and contributors. For every core taxon in the checklist (species, subspecies, or variety), VASCAN provides the accepted scientific name, the accepted French and English vernacular names, and their synonyms/alternatives in Canada, as well as the distribution status (native, introduced, ephemeral, excluded, extirpated, doubtful or absent) of the plant for each province or territory, and the habit (tree, shrub, herb and/or vine) of the plant in Canada. For reported hybrids (nothotaxa or hybrid formulas) VASCAN also provides the hybrid parents, except if the parents of the hybrid do not occur in Canada. All taxa are linked to a classification. VASCAN refers to a source for all name, classification and distribution information.
All data have been released to the public domain under a CC0 waiver and are available through Canadensys and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). VASCAN is a service to the scientific community and the general public, including administrations, companies, and non-governmental organizations.
VASCAN, Canadensys, Canada, Greenland, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, checklist, taxonomy, synonymy, hybrids, vernacular names, English, French, distribution, provinces, habit, open data
The Canadensys repository: https://doi.org/10.5886/1bft7W5f
Data compilation editors: Luc Brouillet (Université de Montréal Biodiversity Centre): coordination, taxonomic and geographic compilation, Frédéric Coursol (Montreal Botanical Garden): taxonomic and geographic compilation, Susan Meades (Northern Ontario Plant Database): taxonomic compilation, Marc Favreau (Translation Bureau, Public Works and Government Services Canada): French vernacular names compilation, Marilyn Anions (botanist, Ottawa): English vernacular names compilation.
Development: Peter Desmet (Université de Montréal Biodiversity Centre): coordination and web design, Pierre Bélisle (Université de Montréal Biodiversity Centre): development, Christian Gendreau (Université de Montréal Biodiversity Centre): development and maintenance, David Shorthouse (Université de Montréal Biodiversity Centre): coordination, Patrick O’Reilley (Université de Montréal): initial data import.
Partial funding came from Parks Canada, the Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility (CBIF), NatureServe Canada, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), and the Gouvernement du Québec (grant to the Université de Montréal Biodiversity Centre and Canadensys). Most of the compilation work, however, was contributed in kind by the home institution of each collaborator.
The study area occupies the northern half of North America (excluding Alaska). The area of Canada is 9, 984, 670 km2, of Greenland (or Kulaalit Nunaat, an autonomous country within the kingdom of Denmark) 2, 166, 086 km2, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon (collectivité territoriale, France) 242 km2. The latter is 20 km off the coast of Newfoundland’s Burin Peninsula and its characteristics are those of boreal eastern Canada. From west to east, the main physiographic regions are the Western Cordillera, the sedimentary Interior Plains, the Canadian and Greenland Shields (mostly igneous rocks), the sedimentary Great Lakes and St. Lawrences Lowlands, and the Appalachian Mountains. The sedimentary Hudson Bay Lowlands basin lies at the centre of the shield, a northern area of sedimentary plains and mountains. The Canadian Arctic borders the Arctic Ocean in northern Canada and northern Greenland. An ice cap covers 81% of Greenland.
The dominant vegetation type of the area is the boreal forest, which occupies much of Canada from Yukon and northeastern British Columbia to Newfoundland. To the north, Arctic tundra prevails: it can be divided into low Arctic (with a nearly continuous plant cover, sometimes shrubby) and high Arctic (including polar deserts); these types are the only ones found in Greenland. To the south of the boreal forest, from west to east, are the humid Pacific Coastal forest, the Cordilleran forest, the Prairie grasslands, the eastern temperate forests (southern Ontario and Quebec), and the Atlantic or Acadian forests.
The population of Canada is concentrated in a narrow belt along its border with the United States, where most of the impacts on ecosystems (urbanization, agriculture) is concentrated. Logging, mining, and hydroelectric development occur in the boreal forest, and mining is now rapidly developing in the Arctic. About 9.9% (
The goal of the Database of Vascular Plants of Canada (VASCAN) is to provide an up-to-date, documented checklist of the names of vascular plants in Canada, Greenland, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon, both scientific and vernacular, and the distribution of the plants at the provincial/territorial level.
VASCAN was developed from the need to validate vascular plant name and distribution data from eastern Canada (Ontario and eastward), Greenland, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon for the Flora of North America project (FNA) and from the need to provide French vernacular names for taxa present in Quebec in the FNA. It expanded when Parks Canada wanted to harmonize the names from vascular plant species lists of its parks across the country. At the time we also realized that - aside from The Flora of Canada by
This checklist covers all vascular plants (Equisetopsida, Tracheophyta) reported in the area described in the section ‘Spatial Coverage’ (Figure 1). The core taxa considered are species, subspecies or varieties, and their hybrids. For these taxa, we provide synonyms, the accepted and alternative French and English vernacular names, and the habit (tree, shrub, herb and/or vine) of the plant in Canada. For reported hybrids (nothotaxa or hybrid formulas) we also indicate the hybrid parents, except if the parents of the hybrid do not occur in Canada. This core information is not provided for higher taxa, although the calculated distribution based on lower taxa can be consulted and downloaded from the VASCAN website (http://data.canadensys.net/vascan).
Taxonomic distribution of accepted species per family from the Database of Vascular Plants of Canada (VASCAN). The families are ordered by total number of species. Families with less than 80 species are grouped in ‘Other families’.
All taxa are linked to a classification:
The classification includes 16 ranks. They are, in hierarchical order: class, subclass, superorder, order, family, subfamily, tribe, subtribe, genus, subgenus, section, subsection, series, species, subspecies and variety. Varieties within subspecies are accepted, so quadrinomial names are present, but forms are not included.
Family: Acanthaceae, Acoraceae, Adoxaceae, Alismataceae, Amaranthaceae, Amaryllidaceae, Anacardiaceae, Annonaceae, Apiaceae, Apocynaceae, Aquifoliaceae, Araceae, Araliaceae, Aristolochiaceae, Asparagaceae, Aspleniaceae, Asteraceae, Athyriaceae, Balsaminaceae, Berberidaceae, Betulaceae, Bignoniaceae, Blechnaceae, Boraginaceae, Brassicaceae, Butomaceae, Buxaceae, Cabombaceae, Cactaceae, Campanulaceae, Cannabaceae, Caprifoliaceae, Caryophyllaceae, Celastraceae, Ceratophyllaceae, Cistaceae, Cleomaceae, Clethraceae, Colchicaceae, Commelinaceae, Convolvulaceae, Cornaceae, Crassulaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Cupressaceae, Cyperaceae, Cystopteridaceae, Dennstaedtiaceae, Diapensiaceae, Dioscoreaceae, Droseraceae, Dryopteridaceae, Elaeagnaceae, Elatinaceae, Equisetaceae, Ericaceae, Eriocaulaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Fabaceae, Fagaceae, Frankeniaceae, Gentianaceae, Geraniaceae, Grossulariaceae, Haemodoraceae, Haloragaceae, Hamamelidaceae, Hydrangeaceae, Hydrocharitaceae, Hymenophyllaceae, Hypericaceae, Hypoxidaceae, Iridaceae, Isoëtaceae, Juglandaceae, Juncaceae, Juncaginaceae, Lamiaceae, Lauraceae, Lentibulariaceae, Liliaceae, Limnanthaceae, Linaceae, Linderniaceae, Loasaceae, Loranthaceae, Lycopodiaceae, Lythraceae, Magnoliaceae, Malvaceae, Marsileaceae, Martyniaceae, Melanthiaceae, Melastomataceae, Menispermaceae, Menyanthaceae, Molluginaceae, Montiaceae, Moraceae, Myricaceae, Nartheciaceae, Nelumbonaceae, Nyctaginaceae, Nymphaeaceae, Oleaceae, Onagraceae, Onocleaceae, Ophioglossaceae, Orchidaceae, Orobanchaceae, Osmundaceae, Oxalidaceae, Paeoniaceae, Papaveraceae, Penthoraceae, Phrymaceae, Phytolaccaceae, Pinaceae, Plantaginaceae, Platanaceae, Plumbaginaceae, Poaceae, Podostemaceae, Polemoniaceae, Polygalaceae, Polygonaceae, Polypodiaceae, Pontederiaceae, Portulacaceae, Potamogetonaceae, Primulaceae, Pteridaceae, Ranunculaceae, Resedaceae, Rhamnaceae, Rosaceae, Rubiaceae, Ruppiaceae, Rutaceae, Salicaceae, Salviniaceae, Santalaceae, Sapindaceae, Sarraceniaceae, Saururaceae, Saxifragaceae, Scheuchzeriaceae, Schizaeaceae, Scrophulariaceae, Selaginellaceae, Simaroubaceae, Smilacaceae, Solanaceae, Staphyleaceae, Tamaricaceae, Taxaceae, Thelypteridaceae, Thymelaeaceae, Tofieldiaceae, Typhaceae, Ulmaceae, Urticaceae, Verbenaceae, Violaceae, Vitaceae, Woodsiaceae, Xanthorrhoeaceae, Xyridaceae, Zosteraceae, Zygophyllaceae.
The checklist covers all vascular plants reported in Canada, Greenland (Denmark), and Saint Pierre and Miquelon (France) (Figure 2). The latter two regions are added because their floras are intimately related to that of Canada and it is useful for Canadians and others to know about them. Provincial distributions are provided to help Canadians visualize the relationship among the floras of their provinces and territories. VASCAN does not intend to replace regional or provincial lists but to act as a complement to them. The covered regions are, in alphabetical order: Alberta, British Columbia, Greenland, Labrador, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saskatchewan, and Yukon.
Regional distribution of accepted species from the Database of Vascular Plants of Canada (VASCAN). For each region, the number of native, introduced and ephemeral species is shown, i.e. species with a confirmed presence in the region. The regions are ordered by total number of species.
The distribution status of the plant is indicated per region. These can be grouped as present (native, introduced or ephemeral), previously reported but currently considered absent (excluded, extirpated), doubtful or not reported (absent). The latter status is not recorded in the database (null value). Excluded taxa are those considered not currently occurring in a region, due either to non-recurring ephemeralness, misidentification, lack of supporting documentation, or when specimens are old and the taxon has not been observed again in more than 50 years. All distribution statuses are defined at http://data.canadensys.net/vascan/about/#distribution.
The VASCAN website (http://data.canadensys.net/vascan) provides a distribution map for each taxon. For higher taxa, these are calculated based on lower taxa, with the distribution statuses ordered as such: native, introduced, ephemeral, excluded, extirpated, doubtful, absent. E.g., if two species within the same genus are respectively native and doubtful in a certain region, the genus is considered native for that region.
The website also provides a checklist builder (http://data.canadensys.net/vascan/checklist), where users can generate their own list of taxa based on several criteria (taxonomy, region, distribution status, or a combination of these) and download this as a Darwin Core Archive or text file.
See the section ‘Spatial coverage’ and ‘Project details - Study area description’.
The data are sampled manually from literature by the editors, though recent additions are based on specimens maintained at institutional herbaria across Canada (see Thiers).
All floras covering Canada, Greenland, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon were considered for literature-based data entry, but only the most recent provincial and territorial floras (see the section ‘References - References used to build the dataset’) were systematically searched to establish the distribution status of each taxon in each region (see the section ‘Spatial coverage’).
New findings or corrections for plant distributions are communicated to the editors by contributors from each region (Appendix). Contributors are local botanists, often associated with Canadian herbaria or Conservation Data Centers. All new reports must be documented by specimens deposited at institutional herbaria.
Suggestions or corrections regarding names, taxonomy, or functionality of the VASCAN website are submitted by users and reviewers through a public Google Code issue tracker at http://code.google.com/p/canadensys/issues/list?can=2&q=label:vascan. Name suggestions are validated by the editors against names in Tropicos (http://www.tropicos.org), IPNI (http://www.ipni.org), GRIN (http://www.ars-grin.gov), or other plant name databases, before being manually corrected in the database.
The data are stored in a relational database (MySQL), which powers the search, checklist builder, taxon and name pages of the VASCAN website. Editors update a development copy of the database through a secure web application. This allows them to make revisions without affecting the users of the website. Once they agree that the data are consistent, in which they are aided by the application, they can push that version of the database to production.
At that moment, the application will also automatically generate a Darwin Core Archive of the data, using the GBIF GNA Profile (
The VASCAN Darwin Core Archive, structured following the GBIF GNA Profile. It is a compressed folder containing 4 text files with tab-seperated values and 2 xml files. Taxon and scientific name information is provided in taxon.txt, with one record for each taxon and child-parent-relationships representing the classification. Records in the extension files distribution.txt, vernacularname.txt and description.txt have a many-to-one relation with the records in taxon.txt and provide additional information for each taxon. The archive structure and term definitions are described in meta.xml. The dataset metadata are provided in eml.xml.
To the extent possible under law, the Université de Montréal Biodiversity Centre has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this dataset, releasing it to the public domain under a CC0 waiver. Users of the data are encouraged to follow the Canadensys norms for data use and publication (http://www.canadensys.net/norms):
Give credit where credit is due: As is common practice in scientific research, cite the data you are using.
Be responsible: Use the data responsibly. The data are published to allow anyone to better study and understand the world around us, so please do not use the data in any way that is unlawful, harmful or misleading. Understand that the data are subject to change, errors and sampling bias. Protect the reputation of the data publisher and clearly indicate any changes you may have made to the data.
Share knowledge: Let us know if you have used the data. It helps us to showcase our efforts and it helps you reach a wider audience. Inform us if you have comments about the data, notice errors, or want more information.
Respect the data license: Understand and respect the data waiver under which the data are published. To help you make greater use of the data, we have dedicated the data to the public domain (CC0). Do not remove the public domain mark or provide misleading information about the copyright status.
Object name: Darwin Core Archive for the Database of Vascular Plants of Canada (VASCAN)
Character encoding: UTF-8
Format name: Darwin Core Archive format
Format version: 1.0
Publication date of data: 2013-07-22
Metadata language: English
Date of metadata creation: 2013-07-22
Hierarchy level: Dataset
Brouillet L, Desmet P, Coursol F, Meades SJ, Favreau M, Anions M, Bélisle P, Gendreau C, Shorthouse D and contributors (2010+) Database of Vascular Plants of Canada (VASCAN). Online at http://data.canadensys.net/vascan, https://doi.org/10.5886/1bft7W5f, and http://www.gbif.org/dataset/3f8a1297-3259-4700-91fc-acc4170b27ce, released on 2010-12-10. Version [xx]. GBIF key: 3f8a1297-3259-4700-91fc-acc4170b27ce. Data paper ID: doi: 10.3897/phytokeys.25.3100 [accessed on [date]]
The authors wish to thank the reviewers and editor for their constructive feedback.
References cited within the metadata
References used to build the dataset
See also the references above. Only the main references are listed; at the time of publication, 485 references are cited in the dataset.
The following individuals made a significant contribution to VASCAN, in addition to the personnel listed in the section ‘Project details - Personnel’: G. Argus (Canadian Museum of Nature), S. Blaney (Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Center), B. Bennett (Environment Yukon), J. Cayouette (Eastern Cereal and Oilseed Research Centre), A. Cuerrier (Montreal Botanical Garden), R. Etcheberry (Saint Pierre and Miquelon), B. Ford (University of Manitoba), B. Fredskild (Denmark), K. Gandhi (Harvard University Herbaria), L. Gillespie (Canadian Museum of Nature), J. Gould (Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation), J. Greenall (Manitoba Conservation Data Centre), G. Halliday (Great Britain), C. Hanel (Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Environment and Conservation), V. Harms (University of Saskatchewan), S.G. Hay (Université de Montréal Biodiversity Centre), J. Labrecque (Centre de données sur le patrimoine naturel du Québec), F. Lomers (British Columbia), J. Maunder (The Rooms Provincial Museum, Newfoundland), M. Munro (Nova Scotia Museum), M. Oldham (Ontario Natural Heritage Information Centre), E. Punter (University of Manitoba), and J.C. Semple (University of Waterloo), as well as many people who made single contributions.