Macquarie University
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Digitisation and analysis of customary medicinal plant knowledge using biodiversity informatics

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posted on 2022-03-28, 02:05 authored by Jitendra Ashok Gaikwad
The overall aims of this thesis are to design and implement customary medicinal plant species information management system and to analyse the collated data using biodiversity informatics tools and resources. Australian customary medicinal plants comprise a major part of the biodiversity and form an inextricable link between biological and cultural diversity. Unfortunately, indigenous medicinal plant knowledge linked with these species is declining due to the loss of biodiversity, habitat destruction and acculturation. For developing effective conservation and adaptive strategies, easy access to relevant information is essential. However, the information on customary medicinal plants is geographically scattered among different indigenous communities, institutions and research organisations in heterogeneous format, rendering it difficult to access and limiting usability. Customary Medicinal Knowledgebase, accessible at is developed in collaboration with Aboriginal communities for collating, integrating, visualising, disseminating and analysing public domain data and first-hand information on customary medicinal plants. To acknowledge and protect the intellectual rights of the Aboriginal communities, access to sensitive first-hand information is password protected, accessible only by authorised community members and approved researchers. Further, CMKb is also compliant with current international biodiversity informatics standards, specifically Economic Botany Data Standards, Darwin Core and Dublin Core for easy integration with national and global biodiversity informatics initiatives. Culturally valuable customary medicinal plant species-rich habitats are distributed across Australia and conservation of these habitats is important. However, studies to identify and conserve such areas are hampered due to the vastness of the continent and lack of adequate data on the spatial distribution of customary medicinal plants species-rich habitats. Models were developed to identify culturally significant species-rich hotspots using habitat suitability modelling tool Maxent and bioclimatic variables. Further, the predicted models were weighted using customary medicinal uses from CMKb to evaluate the cultural worth of the predicted hotspots. In recent times, similar to global trends, profound impacts of human-induced climate change are observed on Australian biodiversity. To devise adaptive strategies for conservation it is important to understand the impact of current and future climate change on the spatial distribution of the customary medicinal plant species. Using Maxent and a bioclimatic envelope, models for twelve multi-therapeutic and culturally important customary medicinal plant species were developed for current and future (decade 2020, 2050 and 2080) climate scenarios using four General Circulation Models (GCMs). The results from this study will help us to further understand the implications of these changing scenarios on customary medicinal plant species and its consequences on Aboriginal customary knowledge.


Table of Contents

1. Introduction -- 2. Methods and applications -- 3. Combining ethnobotany and informatics to discover knowledge from data -- 4. CMKb: a web-based prototype for integrating Australian Aboriginal customary medicinal plant knowledge -- 5. Medicinal plants of New South Wales, Australia -- 6. Modeling potential distribution of customary medicinal plant species used by Australian Aborigines to identify species-rich areas and culturally valuable habitats for conservation -- 7. Climate change: another impending threat to the customary medicinal plant species used by Australian Aborigines -- 8. Conclusions and future directions -- Appendix 1. Questionnaire developed for collection of primary data on Australian Aboriginal medicinal plant knowledge -- Appendix 2. CMKb user's manual


"A thesis submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy". Includes bibliographical references Thesis by publication. "February 2011"

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Science, Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences

Department, Centre or School

Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Shoba Ranganathan


Copyright Jitendra Ashok Gaikwad 2011. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource ( xi, 206 pages ) colour illustrations

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