Capturing California's Flowers: Using Digital Images to Investigate Phenological Change in a Biodiversity Hotspot

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Digitization TCN: Capturing California's Flowers: Using Digital Images to Investigate Phenological Change in a Biodiversity Hotspot (CAP)

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Current Research
Project Websites

Project Summary

Flowering time is an important biological phenomenon, affecting human societies through its effects on agricultural crops, pollinators, pests, and biodiversity. Given the sensitivity of flowering times to climatic conditions, a thorough understanding of how plants respond to changing environments is necessary for predicting the consequences for pollinators, herbivores, parasites, and plant populations. A record of historical flowering times is found within the nation's herbaria. This award establishes a thematic collection network (TCN) dedicated to understanding flowering time shifts in the California flora. California has the most diverse native flora of any state in the U.S., containing more than one-third of all U.S. plant species. The state is a biodiversity hotspot due to the high number of endemic species that are also threatened. The Capturing California's Flowers (CAP) TCN will record flowering times from and create images of over 900,000 herbarium specimens from the oldest records, the most diverse families, and most threatened families in California. Twenty-two institutions spanning the state, including public universities, state agencies, museums, and botanic gardens, will participate in these efforts. This project will generate data that will increase our understanding of flowering time shifts - a critical need for agriculturalists, conservation biologists, plant taxonomists, land managers, and wildlife biologists.

Digitization of each specimen in the CAP TCN will result in a high-resolution image, a databased record of collection metadata, a georeferenced point, and the reproductive status of the specimen. New tools will be developed for the public to search and display phenological data through a Symbiota portal interface. The CAP TCN will develop novel data standards for capturing and sharing trait data from specimens. Building on already successful national and regional programs, the CAP TCN will partner with schools, universities, botanical clubs, and the general public to crowd source phenological measurements through online expeditions, workshops, new college courses, and K-12 educational programs. The CAP TCN will provide a historical record of plants currently being monitored through the National Phenology Network and other regional programs. Finally, this award will expand efforts to train the "next generation" of museum curators, collectors, and researchers.

Current Research

Project Websites & Social Media

CAP TCN Website

Twitter Page

Citizen Science & Outreach Projects

Project Leadership

Project sponsor: California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo (NSF Award #1802301)

Principal Investigator (PI): Jennifer Yost
Project Manager: Katie Pearson
Data Manager: Jason Alexander

Project Collaborators

California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo

Jennifer Yost (Lead PI), California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo (NSF Award #1802301)

University of California - Berkeley

Brent Mischler, (PI), University of California - Berkeley (NSF Award #1802163)

University of California - Santa Barbara

Susan J. Mazer, (PI), University of California - Santa Barbara (NSF Award #1802181)
Katja Seltmann (Co-PI), University of California - Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Matt Guilliams, (PI) Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (NSF Award #1802176)
Lucie Gimmel, herbarium curatorial assistant
Kristen Lehman, laboratory manager

San Jose State University

Benjamin Carter, (PI), San Jose State University (NSF Award #1802177)
Lars Rosengreen, herbarium curator

California State University, Fresno

Katherine E. Waselkov, (PI), California State University, Fresno (NSF Award #1802178)

San Diego State University

Michael G. Simpson, (PI), San Diego State University (NSF Award #1802180)
Lluvia Flores-Renteria (Co-PI), San Diego State University

California State University, Chico

Colleen Hatfield, (PI), California State University, Chico (NSF Award #1802182)
Lawrence Janeway, herbarium curator

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

Mare Nazaire, (PI), Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (NSF Award #1802183)
Lucinda McDade (co-PI), Claremont Graduate University

Humboldt State University

Michael R. Mesler, (PI), Humboldt State University (NSF Award #1802185)
Robin Bencie, collections manager

San Diego Natural History Museum

Layla Aerne Haines, (PI), San Diego Natural History Museum (NSF Award #1802186)
Jon Rebman, (co-PI), San Diego Natural History Museum

California State University, Los Angeles

Kirsten Fisher, (PI), California State University, Los Angeles (NSF Award #1802191)

California State University, Long Beach

Amanda E. Fisher, (PI),California State University, Long Beach (NSF Award #1802192)

California State University, Northridge

Paul S. Wilson, (PI), California State University, Northridge (NSF Award #1802194)
Jim Hogue, database manager

University of California - Los Angeles

Philip Rundel, (PI), University of California - Los Angeles (NSF Award #1802199)
Thomas Huggins, herbarium coordinator

California State University, Fullerton

Joshua P. Der, (PI), California State University, Fullerton (NSF Award #1802200)
Jochen Schenk, (Co-PI), California State University, Fullerton

University of California - Davis

Daniel Potter, (PI), University of California - Davis (NSF Award #1802203)
Ellen Dean, herbarium curator
Teri Barry, collections manager

University of California - Irvine

Peter A. Bowler, (PI), University of California - Irvine (NSF Award #1802312)
Rebecca Crowe, nursery manager

University of California - Riverside

Amy Litt, (PI), University of California - Riverside (NSF Award #1802188)
Andy Sanders, curator

University of California - Santa Cruz

Karen Holl, (PI), University of California - Santa Cruz
Al Keuter, herbarium manager
Ken Kellman

California Parks and Recreation, Colorado Desert District

Danny McCamish, senior environmental scientist
Jim Dice, reserve manager
Larry Hendrickson, senior park aide

Protocols & Workflows

The general workflow for herbarium specimen digitization through the CAP TCN is shown below. Workflows, protocols, and other documentation can be found on the project website: [1]



Alexander, Jason A. (2019). Upcoming changes in the Consortium of California Herbaria, Madroño, 66(1), 37-38.

Professional Presentations

Other project documentation