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e-Monocot is a NERC funded consortium between Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Oxford University and the Natural History Museum.


Grant no's 279981, 279984 & 279970. Period, Nov./Dec. 2010 to Oct./Nov. 2013.




Dr Ben Clark

Personal Information
Given name(s): 
Family name: 
Department of Zoology, University of Oxford
What's your favourite monocot and why?: 

Being a software developer, I tried to find a monocot which has links to the software I develop, but the most relevant plants are from the Rubiaceae (Java), and the Fabaceae (Spring Beans).

Instead, I've selected a monocot which isn't a favourite as such, but is one that I became intimately familiar with during my Ph.D. Nardus stricta L. is found in upland and moorland habitats where the damp conditions and its slow-growth rate is not so much of a disadvantage. It is tough, contains lots of silica, and is very herbivore resistant. I spent many hours harvesting, drying, grinding, digesting, and analysing samples of Nardus to see whether differences in leaf chemistry could in part explain competition between it and Calluna vulgaris, which typically dominates moorland when grazing rates are lower.

The image was taken by Conny and is available from Wikimedia.

Personal interets/role in project: 

I am the Lead Software Developer on the eMonocot project. For the past five or six years I've worked on a variety of projects in collaboration with the taxonomists at Kew and the Natural History Museum, London. I was the software developer working on the CATE Project. I also collaborated with, and later was employed by the EDIT project where I worked on the Common Data Model Library, and associated web-services. I've most recently been employed as part of the Science Applications team at Kew where I was involved with the Grass Portal project. I am a biologist by training. During my Ph.D. I used analytical models to study competition between different plant species for nitrogen and the effect of nutrient cycling on the outcome of compeition.

My personal interests are in developing software applications which work well for taxonomists and biodiversity scientists. I am particularly interested in descriptive information in all its forms and in finding ways to deliver taxonomic information to those who need it. To that end, I am also interested in the use of web-services and associated technology for publishing taxonomic information. Lastly, I am interested in the use of web-based environments for curating and publishing taxonomic information, and in providing taxonomists with tools to work effectively together online.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by: Vince Smith, Simon Rycroft, Dave Roberts, Ben Scott...