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Global Plants - a Valuable Plant Taxonomic Database

11-Dec-2013 Newsletter article

The Global Plants a JSTOR database, is the product of the Global Plants Initiative, a collaboration of nearly 300 Herbaria around the world including Iowa State’s own Ada Hayden Herbarium. The database contains more than two million high resolution images of plant type specimens and foundational materials from the participating herbaria.

Type specimens are specimens which exemplify the characteristics used to define a species. Each type specimen is directly tied to a scientific name and they form an important part of the scientific record, both as physical specimens and as records of a scientist’s work. These voucher specimens are by nature irreplaceable and priceless but needed by researchers for reference. Type specimens can be hard to obtain due to various circumstances, not the least of which is the fear of damage or loss during shipment to a researcher. By digitizing and offering high resolution images of these resources, Global Plants allows researchers to access these valuable materials without transportation of the researcher or specimens.

Iso Eupatorium scorodonioides

A preview of the hi-resolution image from Global Plants of an isotype of Eupatorium scorodonioides A.Gray from the family Asteraceae, commonly known as sunflowers, daises or asters. This specimen was contributed by the Ada Hayden Herbarium.

Records in Global Plants provide links to other materials related to the specimen or group being viewed such as taxonomic records within other JSTOR databases as well as the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Another valuable feature of Global Plants is the open commenting system enabled on each record. This commenting system lets experts from around the world participate in conversations around the digitized materials.

Records in Global plants can be searched by names, names with synonyms, people, places, and free text. An advanced search is available and allows a search by more fields including herbarium code, locality, and type.

The University Library will support the Global Plants Initiative starting in 2014 as they transition from grant funding model to a subscription model.  

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