Establishment of the Herbarium at SUNY Plattsburgh

This was an abstract of a presentation by SUNY Plattsburgh student Megan Ward (under Dr. Chris Martine) given at the Botany 2012 conference in Columbus, Ohio and reprinted here with permission of the authors. Megan, won “Best Undergraduate Presentation” in the Ecology Section. A journal article will come out in the Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society in the future.

The loss of small herbaria is an unfortunate global trend,and the initiation of new collections at small academic institutions is an increasingly rare occurrence. In 2006, a new herbarium was established at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh. The PLAT herbarium has since grown to more than 7,000 specimens, many of them representative of the flora of the northeastern corner of New York (especially Clinton County). Previous to 2006, this region was without a recognized herbarium, the nearest in-state collections being more than 150 miles away. Although botanists have previously worked in the region, relatively few species were recorded for Clinton County by the New York Flora Atlas, a resource providing species distribution records based on specimens accessioned in herbarium collections. Given the dearth of available distribution data for Clinton County (including the eastern Adirondack Mountains and the western Lake Champlain valley), this project sought to provide records of previously unreported species by comparing NY Flora Atlas maps with current holdings. In some cases, unrecorded species not held by PLAT were collected and accessioned in order to establish a record (at times as a component of undergraduate botany coursework). More than 200 species will now be added to the NY Flora Atlas for Clinton County. While many of the new records are common species that simply lacked herbarium records, others are notable additions to the recorded flora, including numerous exotic species. This exercise has amplified the importance of supporting and maintaining small regional herbaria as repositories of valuable biodiversity information. Likewise, this project also highlights the enduring value of training in floristics and taxonomy.

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