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Abstract Detail

Biodiversity Informatics & Herbarium Digitization

King, Megan [1], Aronson, Myla [2], Irelan, Sean [2], Struwe, Lena [3].

The MAM project at Rutgers University - Digitization of the Mid-Atlantic Flora to investigate urban floristic changes.

The Mid-Atlantic Megalopolis project (funded as a NSF-ADBC grant) is a combined effort of 12 institutions to digitize approximately 700,000 specimens from Northeastern USA. The focus is to primarily to provide herbarium collection data to better understand the influence of urbanization of this coastal corridor from New York City to Washington D.C. This region has a long botanical as well as colonial and urban history. By making herbarium specimen data available for big data analysis of combined temporal, spatial, and land use variables, scientists will be able to look at both species and ecosystem changes through time. Urban floras are constantly changing and to help us understand these living systems in historical and climate change perspectives, we need to investigate the flora that existed in the past, today, and what it might look like tomorrow. We present here two aspects of this project at Rutgers University. The first is the large involvement and commitment of undergraduate students to this effort, and how it helps them in their careers, both when it comes to specific biological collections skills, and also in general life skills building of life-long importance. The second is the early stages of collecting specimen and location data from the digitized specimens. A large project such as this requires dedicated effort from staff, students, and volunteers. At Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, we have a student-driven Herbarium Army of for-credit undergraduates working their way through specimen preparation, barcoding, and imaging. Once the images are processed they are uploaded online where they are transcribed and geo-referenced for further analysis. With this process, we are "bringing out the beauty (and data) within!" the steel herbarium cabinets and make the data searchable and available online on a global scale. Additionally, we will present a method we have developed to measuring detailed morphological characteristics from digitized images of herbarium sheets. These methods will allow us to collect species- and collection specific morphometric quantitative data for further analysis related to urbanization or other ecosystem influences. The long-term data beneficiaries of the MAM project will be a wide array of people, from the citizen scientist and the professional or amateur botanist to urban developers and restoration ecologists. We expect that the release of up to 200 years of botanical collection data for this region will help research and conservation efforts for another 200 years.

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Related Links:
Mid-Atlantic Herbaria Portal
The Chrysler Herbarium & Mycological Collection of Rutgers

1 - Chrysler Herbarium, Dept of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources, Rutgers University, 59 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901, US
2 - Dept of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources, Rutgers University, 14 College Farm Road, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901, US
3 - Rutgers University, Ecology, Evolution And Natural Resources, 59 Dudley Road, Foran Hall Rm 237, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901, United States

urban flora
Climate change
land use change
undergraduate education

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 12, Biodiversity Informatics & Herbarium Digitization
Location: 105/Mayo Civic Center
Date: Monday, July 23rd, 2018
Time: 1:45 PM
Number: 12002
Abstract ID:319
Candidate for Awards:None

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