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Emily K. Meineke, Charles C. Davis, and Jonathan Davies. Forthcoming. “The unrealized potential of herbaria for global change biology.” Ecological Review, Pp. 1-21.Abstract


Plant and fungal specimens in herbaria are becoming primary resources for investigat-

ing how plant phenology and geographic distributions shift with climate change, greatly expanding

inferences across spatial, temporal, and phylogenetic dimensions. However, these specimens contain a

wealth of additional data, including nutrients, defensive compounds, herbivore damage, disease

lesions, and signatures of physiological processes, that capture ecological and evolutionary responses

to the Anthropocene but which are less frequently utilized. Here, we outline the diversity of herbarium

data, global change topics to which they have been applied, and new hypotheses they could inform.

We find that herbarium data have been used extensively to study impacts of climate change and inva-

sive species, but that such data are less commonly used to address other drivers of biodiversity loss,

including habitat conversion, pollution, and overexploitation. In addition, we note that fungal speci-

mens are under-explored relative to vascular plants. To facilitate broader application of plant and fun-

gal specimens in global change research, we consider the limitations of these data and modern

sampling and statistical tools that may be applied to surmount challenges they present. Using a case

study of insect herbivory, we illustrate how novel herbarium data may be employed to test hypotheses

for which few data exist. With the goal of positioning herbaria as hubs for global change research, we

suggest future research directions and curation priorities.

Key words: climate change; extinction; global change; habitat conversion; herbarium; historical data; invasive

species; museum specimens.


Jennifer M. Yost, Patrick W. Sweeney, Ed Gilbert, Gil Nelson, Robert Guralnick, Amanda S. Gallnat, Elizabeth R. Ellwood, Natalie Rossington, Charles G. Willis, Stanley D. Blum, Romona L. Walls, Elspeth M. Haston, Michael W. Denslow, Constantin M. Zohner, Ashley B. Morris, Brian J. Stucky, J. Richard Carter, David G. Baxter, Kjell Bolmgren, Ellen G. Denny, Ellen Dean, Katelin D. Pearson, Charles C. Davis, Brent D. Mishler, Pamela S. Soltis, and Susan J. Mazer. 2/28/2018. “Digitization protocol for scoring reproductive phenology from herbarium specimens of seed plants.” Applications in Plant Sciences, 6, 2, Pp. 1-11. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Premise of the Study
Herbarium specimens provide a robust record of historical plant phenology (the timing of seasonal events such as flowering or fruiting). However, the difficulty of aggregating phenological data from specimens arises from a lack of standardized scoring methods and definitions for phenological states across the collections community.

Methods and Results
To address this problem, we report on a consensus reached by an iDigBio working group of curators, researchers, and data standards experts regarding an efficient scoring protocol and a data-sharing protocol for reproductive traits available from herbarium specimens of seed plants. The phenological data sets generated can be shared via Darwin Core Archives using the Extended MeasurementOrFact extension.

Our hope is that curators and others interested in collecting phenological trait data from specimens will use the recommendations presented here in current and future scoring efforts. New tools for scoring specimens are reviewed.