Mobilizing New England Vascular Plant Specimen Data

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Mobilizing New England Vascular Plant Specimen Data to Track Environmental Change

Project Summary

Herbarium specimens provide a source of historical information useful to the study of global environmental change. The goal of this project is to provide data to support studies of the nature and consequences of environmental change in the New England region over the last three centuries. This project will digitally capture specimen data and images from about 1.3 million vascular plant specimens from herbaria across New England, enhancing the data with georeferencing, habitat, and phonological information. The digitization process will integrate with existing community efforts and will develop novel high-throughput digitization technologies to increase efficiency and decrease costs. All resulting data and images will be freely available on-line.

The data from this project will be of immediate use to scientists who study climate and land-use change, and will provide a better understanding of how global changes will impact the distribution of native and introduced plant species. This project will benefit research in taxonomy, ecology, morphology, biogeography, and evolutionary history by making available data on an entire regional flora in an electronic format. The methodologies developed will provide a model for other regions around the nation. In addition the project will utilize citizen scientists, school groups, and students providing training, research, and educational opportunities. . This award is made as part of the National Resource for Digitization of Biological Collections through the Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections program and all data resulting from this award will be available through the national resource (

Project Leadership

Project Lead PI (Lead Principal Investigator): Patrick Sweeney

Co-PIs: Michael Donoghue

NSF Award Number


Project Collaborators

Yale University
University of New Hampshire
Harvard University
Brown University
University of Vermont
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Boston University
University of Oklahoma
Bartlett Arboretum
Central Connecticut State University
Connecticut College
Western Connecticut State University
Berkshire Museum
Keene State
Westfield State University