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Abstract Detail

Building a High-Resolution, Specimen-Based Picture of Life: Possibilities and Challenges

Mishler, Brent [1], Mcdade, Lucinda [2].

Integrative research using digitized specimens: examples from the Consortium of California Herbaria.

California is a global biodiversity hotspot, with a rich, highly endemic, and endangered flora. Localized moisture, soil, and microclimatic conditions give rise to a rich and unusual biota, with many endemics. The state's vascular flora numbers 4,976 native species, of which 1,315 (26%) are endemic, far more than in any other state, including Hawaii. The Consortium of California Herbaria (CCH) was founded in 2003 to share data and facilitate the databasing of specimens of California plants in the state's herbaria; there are 21 participating herbaria at present (19 in California, 2 out-of-state). Currently, nearly 1.5 million records are online at the CCH site ( Approximately half of these records have been georeferenced to date, county-by-county, and work is actively ongoing, supported by a large NSF digitization grant to the consortium. These records are used routinely by local, state, and federal agency personnel, non-profit conservation organizations, the general public, and professional botanists to answer questions about geographic distribution, habitat requirements, and associations among species. CCH is being integrated with the Jepson eFlora (, an online version of the newly published flora for California tracheophytes (Jepson Manual, 2nd ed.) facilitating continuing development of on-line resources for such applications as plant identification and interactive range maps. In addition to these practical applications, many research questions can be approached using digitized herbarium data. Some examples will be presented of research enabled by georeferenced, digitized specimen records, including: (1) Flora-wide analyses of ecological traits, biogeography, diversity, and endemism within a phylogenetic framework. While biodiversity can be measured simply by counting the number of species in a given area, investigation of patterns of species diversity alone misses the full richness of patterns that can be inferred using a phylogenetic approach. We will demonstrate how the application of phylogenetic methods, particularly phylogenetic diversity and phylogenetic endemism, can enhance knowledge of the distribution of biodiversity across both space and time. (2) Discovery of previously over-looked species, by revealing marked disjunctions, morphological variation, and habitat differences that warrant exploration via focused fieldwork. (3) Older herbarium data as a baseline against which future changes in the vegetation can be measured, enabling researchers to track the impact of climate change, invasive spread of weeds, change in phenology and reproductive output, introduction of new plant diseases, etc. For example, we will demonstrate how CCH data have been used to predict the consequences of climate change.

Broader Impacts:

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Related Links:
Consortium of California Herbaria
Jepson eFlora

1 - University Of California, Berkeley, DEPT OF INTEGRATIVE BIOLOGY, 1001 Valley Life Science Building # 2465, Berkeley, CA, 94720-2465, USA
2 - Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Department Of Botany, 1500 N. College Avenue, Claremont, CA, 91711, USA

climate change
phylogenetic approaches

Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: SY11
Location: Franklin A/Hyatt
Date: Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
Time: 3:15 PM
Number: SY11007
Abstract ID:972

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