Field of Science

Never Enough Time or Money

The Phactor routinely gets asked to identify plant specimens, and in doing so our herbarium collection is used for comparison and to verify identifications. But a colleague dragged in a specimen that demonstrated a gaping deficiency in our collection of plant specimens. For certain local habitats, particularly dry hilltops and ridges, as well as priaries, no new collections have been made in over 100 years! What a shock to pull out a folder and only find one representative specimen, and that now mislabeled because of some major taxonomic research that has realigned a group of genera and their species! It was hardly any help at all. In an era when climate change may well be affecting the biology of organisms, altering their flowering period and even geographic ranges, the magnitude of this deficiency is apparent. And even the Phactor is to blame having collected way more tropical plants than those from the local flora. The solution is to get busy collecting, and then you run into the dredded T & M problem, time and money. Collecting isn't rocket science, so perhaps volunteers could be inlisted, up to the point where a species name has to be afixed. What a terrible situation, but nothing a couple more botanists couldn't fix.

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