North Carolina State University is awarded a grant to create an Internet-accessible fossil wood database with coded anatomical descriptions, to integrate images of fossil woods into that database, and enhance an existing modern wood database (5500 + records) by adding numerous recently contributed wood anatomical images. Protocols used for preparing the modern wood Oracle database, InsideWood (, will be adapted for incorporating the fossil wood database (1500+ records) into the InsideWood web site. Images have been created and indexed in accordance with Library of Congress best practices for digital collections. Each of the 36,0000 + images in the database is linked via metadata tags to specimen information, taxonomic information, and contributor information. These databases have been developed with non-exclusive, open architecture to allow for long-term sustainability. The fossil wood database is the most complete compilation of information on fossil dicot wood anatomy. Making this database Internet accessible, accompanied by images and multiple search strategies, is significant for research into the past distribution and diversity of trees, shrubs, and vines, tracking evolutionary trends, and reconstructing ancient environments. The modern dicot wood database of InsideWood, which uses International Association of Wood Anatomists (IAWA) terminology, is the most extensive internet-accessible compendium of wood anatomical information. This database also makes available for the first time wood descriptions and images of some threatened species of North American trees and shrubs not published elsewhere. A large image database of modern woods allows evaluation of wood anatomical characters for inclusion into phylogenetic analyses. These images are an invaluable addition to InsideWood's multiple-entry key for wood identification. This key is useful for determining the affinities of both fossil and modern dicot woods. Wood identification also helps archaeologists address questions about ancient vegetation and the context for human evolution, past uses of natural resources, and trade routes. Wood anatomical information is also used in a variety of research projects in forest biology and ecology. The InsideWood site provides instructors in botany, forest biology, and ecology courses with an extensive global encyclopedia of reliably identified photomicrographs. These images show wood anatomical diversity and illustrate structure-function relationships, and complement existing textbooks. With images and other information from InsideWood, instructors can create tutorials on wood anatomy and identification to incorporate into their curricula; students can use these data in research projects. InsideWood provides access to images of fossil wood for public programs at National and State Parks and museums. The image database and the multiple-entry wood identification key are also of practical significance for forensic scientists, customs agents, antique dealers, and museum curators who need to identify wood. Wood identification has legal or conservation implications, as timber identification is necessary for enforcing CITES regulations.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI)
Standard Grant (Standard)
Application #
Program Officer
Peter H. McCartney
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
North Carolina State University Raleigh
United States
Zip Code