|Using museum data for large-scale questions: modeling Florida plant diversity
|Year of Publication
|Germain-Aubrey, Charlotte C., Allen Julie M., Guralnick Robert P., Neubig Kurt M., Ponciano Jose Miguel, Lamy Thomas, Majure Lucas, Soltis Douglas E., and Soltis Pamela S.
|Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections 30th Annual Meeting
|The effort to digitize all biological collections in the USA is quickly
leading to an online dataset of over one billion specimens,
available for addressing questions at unprecedented scales.
Florida hosts several biodiversity hotspots and is home to over
4,100 species of plants. Using herbarium collections, we took
advantage of the historical data linked with the specimens and
constructed a pipeline that extracts environmental variables at
the time of the collection for each of 1,550 species. We used the
collections to reconstruct niche models and project the effect of
climate change on the Florida vegetation landscape. Moreover,
we reconstructed the regional phylogeny for those species for
which we built models, investigating similar questions through
the lens of the evolutionary history of the region. This study
emphasizes the importance of museum collections for research.
We will discuss several steps and assumptions made in order to
use as much of the data as possible. Through our experience,
we will recommend concrete actions that collectors, collection
managers, and researchers can take to facilitate the use of
museum specimens by the maximum number of scientists and