Addressing Colorado Lichens and Bryophytes as Sensitive Indicators of Environmental Quality and Change

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Digitization PEN: Addressing Colorado Lichens and Bryophytes as Sensitive Indicators of Environmental Quality and Change

Project Summary

This award joins the ongoing Thematic Collections Network project on "North American Lichens and Bryophytes: Sensitive Indicators of Environmental Quality and Change". The primary goal of this project is to image label data from the 100,000 North American bryophyte (mosses) and lichen specimens held at the University of Colorado Herbarium (COLO). The main scientific questions to be addressed from these efforts are: (1) How are changes in distribution patterns of lichens and bryophytes over time correlated with man-made environmental changes? (2) Can mapping of specimens document such changes, and can these organisms be used as bioindicators to focus our attention on steps needed to maintain a healthy environment? Natural history museums and herbaria serve as storehouses for plant and animal specimens collected over generations of scientific investigation. Collections are the basis for our understanding of life's diversity in all its abundance and variation across nature. The collections from Colorado will add information about high altitude lichens and bryophytes and will fill a gap for the original network.

With uncertainty surrounding future impacts from human climate disruption, the value of efforts such as these will only grow over time. Future scientists and policy makers will be indebted to those who expedite access to the objective records of voucher specimens documenting the presence of particular species at a particular place at a particular time. COLO views this proposal not only as a commitment to fill a significant gap in the national project's goal to digitize the bulk of North American collection in US herbaria, but also as an opportunity to advance efforts within museums and herbaria to train and support the next generation of curatorial professionals, offering opportunities for several undergraduate students as interns. Volunteers from the public community will be trained, and the museum will develop exhibits as a part of public outreach. This award is made as part of the National Resource for Digitization of Biological Collections through the Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections program and all data resulting from this award will be available through the national resource (

Current Research

Not available at this time

Project Leadership

Project Sponsor: University of Colorado at Boulder

Principal Investigator (PI): Timothy Hogan

NSF Award Number


Project Website

Not available at this time

Project Collaborators

University of Colorado