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Old 07-14-2010, 11:06 PM
PeterJWarner PeterJWarner is offline
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Exclamation Botanical collections and accessioning

This appears to be the most relevant forum to discuss this issue.

Over the past several years, I've experienced increasing frustration with the process of submitting botanical specimens and the timely accessioning of those specimens by herbaria. This now amounts to over 100 specimens I've submitted to several herbaria since the mid-1990's. Some of these herbaria are either non-functional, apparently (e.g., Sonoma State University), or do not have any data posted in the California Online Consortium (College of the Redwoods). I realize some of these collections have not been accessioned, or the data has not been provided to the Online Consortium. This is a very serious shortcoming, in my opinion, as a potentially extensive amount of botanical information is not available to other botanists, in particular to authors of flora such as the Jepson Manual and Flora of North America.

I take my botanical work seriously, and have made efforts to improve my botanical collecting and specimen preparations over the years, although I rarely get any feedback from herbarium curators, despite my requests to provide me some. After hearing several admonitions (by some) and gentle encouragement (by others) at conferences over the past 15 years to do more collecting and submitting of specimens, I must say my efforts at this time feel largely wasted. Perhaps some of these speakers (Dean Taylor, Ellen Dean, Dean Kelch, et al.) or other institutional and academic botanists can provide some information on why submitted specimens are not accessioned in a timely manner, if the need for collecting is so great (an observation with which I agree, based on the sparse collection data available online). I also understand that some herbaria are not well funded or staffed, in which case I feel that the specimens might be moved to other herbaria where accessioning and data posting might be done more expeditiously.

In spite of my frustration, I will continue to submit specimens, although I'm not so sure about which herbaria I trust to accession material and post the data in a reasonable amount of time (a year?). However, I am interested in engaging others in a discussion about how to make more collections and accompanying data available (through the Online Consortium), so that the work of individuals is not wasted, and all botanists can have access to their work.
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