Computerization of the Humboldt State University Vascular Plant Herbarium.

The collection of dried, mounted plant specimens held in the Humboldt State University Vascular Plant Herbarium provides the most complete and up-to-date documentation of the flora of the Klamath Bioregion. This region, encompassing the corners of northwest California and southwest Oregon, is one of the richest botanical areas in western North America with >3,500 species, and yet remains poorly documented and explored. This project will employ undergraduate students over a three year period to enter habitat and geographical data from the ~ 90,000 herbarium specimens into an on-line searchable database. The specimen records will then be incorporated into larger databases maintained by the Consortium of California Herbaria and the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria, and made available to the public via their existing web portals.

On-line access to our specimen data will be invaluable to the state and federal biologists who monitor the many rare and endangered plants indigenous to the extensive public lands of the Klamath Bioregion. Specimen data will also assist those engaged in tracking and curtailing the spread of potentially harmful exotic species. Because most these specimens are not duplicated at larger herbaria, resource managers will now have access to critical information regarding the geographical distribution and habitat preferences of this region?s diverse flora.

Project Report

(HSC) is an important source of information about the plants of northwestern California and the Klamath Region, a large area extending into southwestern Oregon that includes the Marble, Salmon, Siskiyou, and Trinity Mountain ranges. This region is known for its botanical richness. It is home to more than 3,500 kinds of vascular plants, a large fraction of which are endemic and rare. Although many botanists have visited the area historically, relatively few recent (post-1970) specimens are available in herbaria statewide, with the notable exception of HSC. Our collection provides the most complete documentation of the occurrence, distribution, elevation ranges, habitat preferences, and phenology of the native and non-native plants of this rich and distinctive flora. Many ecologically important plant groups are well-represented in the collection, including conifers, shrubs, grasses, sedges, and subalpine species. Funds awarded to HSC in March 2009 by the National Science Foundation BRC Program enabled staff and student employees to create a database of all HSC specimens from California and southwestern Oregon. The principal rationale for this project was to provide local and on-line access to specimen label information to students, professional botanists, resource managers, and environmental professionals. Our student employees and staff spent 4 years and ~5,000 hours populating the HSC database with nearly 71,000 specimen records. These database records can be queried by species name, collector name, date collected, elevation, geographical location (including spatial coordinates), and habitat. The California specimen records generated by our NSF-funded project are now available online at the website of the Consortium of California Herbaria (CCH; We are continuing to add to our local database as we collect and accession new specimens. Updated versions of this file are sent to CCH periodically for inclusion in the statewide database. HSC specimens collected from southwestern Oregon (~1,650 specimens) were geo-referenced, and are now available at the website of the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria (CPNH;

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI)
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Program Officer
Anne Maglia
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Humboldt State University Foundation
United States
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