With over 390 million specimens worldwide collected by thousands of botanists over the past three centuries, herbaria (collections of preserved dead plants) comprise an enormous ecological resource for understanding the world around us. Historically, these museum specimens were primarily collected for use in taxonomy (that is, the classification and naming of species). However, herbarium specimens are increasingly being used in novel and unanticipated ways by a diverse array of disciplines. Ongoing large-scale digitization initiatives have made these data more accessible than ever (to scientists and the public alike), including detailed specimen information and high-resolution images. Further, technological advancements in research areas such as artificial intelligence, statistics, chemistry, and genomics have opened new research possibilities to use these data. Mason will present an overview of the past, present, and future uses of plant collections in natural history museums to understand environmental changes in an era of rapid global environmental change, inform plant conservation, and appreciate the diversity of life in our very own backyards. Mason will focus on his ongoing research using herbarium specimens to understand changes in plant traits of introduced species, learn about belowground fungal communities associated with plant roots from over a century ago, uncover the impacts of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide on poison ivy in Pennsylvania, and discover an overlooked consequence of climate change affecting understory wildflowers in forests in the US and worldwide.
Online Access Information
Registration closes 12 noon November 16. A link to the Zoom webinar will be e-mailed to registrants that afternoon.
There is no set webinar registration fee. We invite you to pay what you can. $40? $25? $10? $0? You name it.
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