California oak woodland - Photo credit: John Game
Wonderful news - participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria (CCH) have been awarded a $1,900,000+ National Science Foundation grant for a collaborative research project titled "Harnessing the power of herbaria to understand the changing flora of California: A biodiversity hotspot in peril." To support the national effort to predict, understand and monitor the effects of climate change, participants of the CCH will database ~338,600 California-collected vascular plant specimens and georeference ~500,000 locations from collections held in California herbaria and at Harvard University (a repository of many older California specimens). The plants targeted are dominants in California habitats (i.e., woody plants and grasses) and those most imperiled by threats to biodiversity, including climate change (i.e., alpine plants and those listed by the California Native Plant Society as of conservation concern). As it is gathered, specimen data will be available online at the Consortium of California Herbaria (CCH) Web portal (http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/consortium). The project will also accomplish the seamless inclusion of data from California specimens housed in the museums of SEINet (Southwest Environmental Information Network). This is a major step toward building a United States Virtual Herbarium that will provide information on the distribution of plants nationwide. This five-year project will also provide tangible benefits to the public, students of all levels, and the research community. Specimen data will be downloadable so that anyone can use the information to pursue interests and questions (e.g., understanding current plant distributions, identifying plants of a particular place, predicting future plant migrations). Undergraduate students will be involved extensively with data entry, providing them with skills and training applicable to future professional pursuits. In sum, the project will make major portions of the immense data resource held in herbaria directly available for use by anyone with internet access.
 

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