9 Global Reset Zones

World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to navigationJump to searchFor a more comprehensive list, see List of codes used in the World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions.For the categories on Wikipedia that are derived from this scheme, see Wikipedia:WikiProject Plants/World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions.

The World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions (WGSRPD) is a biogeographical system developed by the international Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) organization, formerly the International Working Group on Taxonomic Databases.[1] The WGSRPD standards, like other standards for data fields in botanical databases, were developed to promote “the wider and more effective dissemination of information about the world’s heritage of biological organisms for the benefit of the world at large”. The system provides clear definitions and codes for recording plant distributions at four scales or levels, from “botanical continents” down to parts of large countries. Current users of the system include the International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN), the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), and the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP).


Principles of organization

The scheme is one of a number developed by Biodiversity Information Standards particularly aimed at taxonomicdatabases.[2] The starting point was the “need for an agreed system of geographical units at approximately ‘country’ level and upwards for use in recording plant distributions”.[1] The scheme represents a compromise between political and botanical divisions.[3] All boundaries either follow a political boundary (country boundary, province boundary, etc.), or coastlines.[1] The scheme also aims to follow botanical tradition, in terms of the distribution categories used in works like the Flora EuropaeaFlora Malesiana, or Med-Checklist.[4] This approach occasionally leads to departures from political boundaries. Thus the scheme follows Flora Europaea[5] in placing the eastern Aegean islands (such as LesbosSamos and Rhodes) in the West Asia region,[6] rather than in Europe where they belong politically as part of Greece.


The scheme defines geographic places at four scales or levels, from “botanical continents” down to parts of large countries:[7]

  1. Continental – nine botanical continents
  2. Regional – each botanical continent is divided into between two and ten sub-continental regions
  3. Area or “botanical country” – most regions are subdivided into units generally equating to a political country, but large countries may be split or outlying areas omitted
  4. “Basic recording units” – the lowest level is only used for very large countries, subdividing them into states or provinces on purely political grounds

Standardized codes are used to represent the units at each level. Numerical codes are used for Levels 1 and 2, alphabetic codes for Levels 3 and 4.

Europe10 Northern Europe11 Middle Europe12 Southwestern Europe13 Southeastern Europe14 Eastern Europe2 Africa20 Northern Africa21 Macaronesia22 West Tropical Africa23 West-Central Tropical Africa24 Northeast Tropical Africa25 East Tropical Africa26 South Tropical Africa27 Southern Africa28 Middle Atlantic Ocean29 Western Indian OceanAsia-Temperate[note 1]30 Siberia31 Russian Far East32 Middle Asia33 Caucasus34 Western Asia35 Arabian Peninsula36 China37 Mongolia38 Eastern AsiaAsia-Tropical[note 2]40 Indian Subcontinent41 Indo-China[note 3]42 Malesia43 PapuasiaAustralasia50 Australia51 New Zealand6 Pacific60 Southwestern Pacific[note 4]61 South-Central Pacific62 Northwestern Pacific63 North-Central PacificNorthern America[note 5]70 Subarctic America[note 6]71 Western Canada72 Eastern Canada73 Northwestern U.S.A.74 North-Central U.S.A.75 Northeastern U.S.A.76 Southwestern U.S.A.77 South-Central U.S.A.78 Southeastern U.S.A.79 Mexico8 Southern America[note 7]80 Central America81 Caribbean82 Northern South America83 Western South America84 Brazil85 Southern South AmericaAntarctic90 Subantarctic Islands91 Antarctic Continent


For more botanically oriented classifications using phytogeography, the scheme’s documentation endorses the use of floristic kingdomsfloristic regions, and floristic provinces, as classified by Armen Takhtajan.[9]

Level 1: botanical continents

Botanical continents as defined by the WGSRPD

The WGSRPD defines nine botanical continents (Level 1), each assigned a single digit code from 1 (Europe) to 9 (Antarctica). Although it is said that “popular concepts of the continents of the world have been maintained, but with one or two slight modifications”,[3] some of the botanical continents are notably different from the traditional geographical continents. In particular, Asia is divided into two botanical continents; 5 Australasia consists only of Australia and New Zealand and small outlying islands; most of the islands in the Pacific Ocean are allocated to 6 Pacific; and the division of the Americas into 7 Northern America and 8 Southern America differs from the traditional North America and South America.[3]

1 Europe

The botanical continent of Europe is defined broadly in line with Flora Europaea[5] and with the traditional geographical definition. To the north-west it includes Iceland and Svalbard (Spitsbergen). The southern boundary with Africa encloses most of the Mediterranean islands. The eastern boundary places Crimea and European Russia in Europe, with the border defined by the administrative units. Novaya Zemlya is excluded from Europe. The south-eastern boundary excludes the Caucasus and Turkey east of the Bosporus, as well as the Eastern Aegean Islands and Cyprus, which although geopolitically part of Europe are considered floristically part of Western Asia.[10]

2 Africa

The botanical continent of Africa corresponds closely to the usual geographical definition. It excludes the Sinai Peninsula, politically a part of Egypt, which is placed in region 34 Western Asia. To the west, it includes islands grouped as Macaronesia, comprising the Azores, the Canary Islands, and the Cape Verde islands. To the east, it includes Madagascar and other Indian Ocean islands out as far as the island of Rodrigues.[11]

3 Asia-Temperate

The geographical continent of Asia is divided into two botanical continents, 3 Asia-Temperate and 4 Asia-Tropical. The reason for the division was described as largely for convenience.[3] Asia-Temperate borders Europe and Africa; the boundaries are described above. To the south-east, the Indian Subcontinent and the rest of Asia from region 41 Indo-China southwards are placed in Asia-Tropical.[12]

4 Asia-Tropical

Asia-Tropical forms the second part of the traditional geographical continent of Asia. Its western and northern boundaries are formed by the two regions 40 Indian Subcontinent and 41 Indo-China. The southern boundary separates Asia-Tropical from Australia. The south-eastern boundary was changed between the first edition of 1992 and the second edition of 2001. In the first edition, Asia-Tropical was divided into three regions: 40 Indian Subcontinent, 41 Indo-China and 42 Malesia. The eastern boundary of Malesia was placed between the Bismarck Archipelago and the Solomon Islands Archipelago, which were put into region 60 Southwest Pacific. It was subsequently argued that it made more “floristic sense” to link the Solomon Islands with the Bismarck Archipelago and the island of New Guinea. Accordingly, in the second edition, a new region 43 Papuasia was created within Asia-Tropical, comprising New Guinea, Near Oceania (the Bismarck Archipelago and the Solomon Islands Archipelago), so that Asia-Tropical consists of four regions.[13]

5 Australasia

The botanical continent of Australasia, as defined by the WGSRPD, consists only of Australia and New Zealand, plus outlying islands. The name was described as having been “controversial”, since it has been used to describe larger areas.[14] Other definitions may include IndonesiaNew Guinea and many Pacific islands, which the WGSRPD divides between 4 Asia-Tropical and 6 Pacific.

6 Pacific

The WGSRPD groups most islands with a nearby continental landmass, usually the closest but may also make a decision influenced by the floristic similarity (hence the placement of the Azores with Africa and not Europe). The exception is the islands of the central part of the Pacific Ocean, which are placed in a separate botanical continent. The largest of these islands include New CaledoniaFiji and Hawaii.[15]

7 Northern America

The WGSRPD divides the Americas into 7 Northern America and 8 Southern America rather than into the traditional continents of North America and South America. The boundary between Northern America and Southern America was changed from the first edition to the second edition. In the first edition, a south-eastern part of Mexico was included in Southern America, the rest of Mexico being placed in Northern America. This followed the boundary of Mesoamerica in Flora Mesoamericana. However, it proved unpopular, especially with Mexican botanists, so in the second edition, all of Mexico is placed in Northern America, which thus consists of Mexico, the contiguous United States plus Alaska, Canada, and Greenland, together with associated offshore islands.[16]

8 Southern America

As noted above, the Americas are divided into 7 Northern America and 8 Southern America rather than into the traditional continents of North America and South America, with the precise boundary between the two having changed between the first and second editions of the WGSRPD. Southern America consists of the Caribbean, the WGSRPD definition of Central America (those countries south of Mexico and north of Colombia), and the traditional geographical continent of South America, together with some offshore islands, such as the Galapagos.[17]

9 Antarctic

The Antarctic botanical continent consists of continental Antarctica, plus a number of Subantarctic Islands, including the Falkland IslandsSouth Georgia and Tristan da Cunha.[18]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.