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ANHC Herbarium Specimen Images Online and More to Come!

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission - Wednesday, January 29, 2020
by Diana Soteropoulos

In summer and fall 2018, volunteers and interns took photographs of 12,069 accessioned specimens in the ANHC Herbarium. These specimen images and their associated data were uploaded to the online data portal SouthEast Regional Network of Expertise and Collections (SERNEC) in February 2019. Researchers, conservationists, and amateur botanists worldwide can access records on SERNEC. Specimen images of species needing protection due to poaching risk are not visible, and the location details are secured.

While the online images reach people worldwide, it is important to keep the physical specimens. As our understanding of plant taxonomy changes and new research questions develop, scientists must be able to study the physical specimens of plants. For example, researchers can extract DNA from herbarium specimens, such as was done when the ANHC Herbarium contributed genetic samples from Arkansas specimens of the bonesets/thoroughworts (Eupatorium genus) for a study that helped document three species new to Arkansas and one species previously undescribed to science.

To continue providing information about the herbarium holdings at the ANHC, staff constructed an imaging station over the past year that will be permanently housed within our offices. (See Building the ANHC Herbarium's Imaging Station)

The ANHC herbarium staff is excited to welcome new and returning imaging volunteers to photograph the nearly 3,000-specimen backlog as well as future accessions. If you are interested in volunteering at the ANHC herbarium, please contact Brent Baker at [email protected] or Diana Soteropoulos at [email protected]

Photos: Top - Specimen of netted chain fern (Woodwardia areolata), imaged by volunteer Carole Yeung on January 7, 2020. This specimen is the first of the species to be accessioned into the ANHC Herbarium.

Bottom - Central Arkansas Master Naturalists Karen Seale (left) and Carole Yeung (right) with the new imaging station at the ANHC. Karen Seale organized and trained volunteers and interns to image herbarium specimens in 2018. Going forward, Carole Yeung will be organizing and training volunteers for herbarium specimen imaging. Photo by Diana Soteropoulos. 

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