DETAILS OF THE COLLECTION. University of Iowa Herbarium (IA): Endangered. Museum of Natural History: Threatened.

Diana Horton diana-horton at UIOWA.EDU
Mon Apr 14 18:02:12 CDT 2003

The University of Iowa Herbarium is larger than 92% of nearly 600 herbaria 
in the United States (data from P. Holmgren, New York Botanical 
Garden).  It houses some 250,000 specimens of vascular plants, bryophytes 
and plant fossils from all over the world, including the only major 
collections of bryophytes and fossils in Iowa.  With over 80,000 specimens 
of mosses and hepatics, this bryophyte collection is nationally 
significant.  However, the heart of the collection is the nearly 75,000 
Iowa specimens of vascular plants and bryophytes that establish it as a 
regionally significant resource.

- Publications/reports/creative works and theses
Approximately 100 publications/reports/creative works and 30 theses have 
been based on IA specimens in the last 10 years.

- New site records
Since 1990, IA has documented at least 10 native vascular plant species 
previously unrecorded from Iowa.  Species believed extirpated have been 
‘rediscovered’ and new localities for nationally threatened species have 
been discovered.  New county records are commonplace.  Amazingly, 
considering the agricultural devastation of this state, the remnant natural 
habitats in eastern Iowa  the ‘hotspot’ of Iowa -- offer exciting 
opportunities for additional discoveries.

Our current project is the “Iowa Fragile Flora Inventory,” a distributional 
database for all Iowa plant species (ca. 2,000) that will be used to 
generate county distribution maps on the web site.  In fall 2002, four 
undergraduates each volunteered an average of 4-6 hours/week extracting 
collections’ data for that project.  About 1/3 of the IA collections’ data 
have been compiled in hard copy ready to be entered in the computer.

- Undergraduate Instruction
The Herbarium is widely utilized for undergraduate instruction, with 
anywhere from 250 to 400 students per year in 10 to 15 courses learning 
about collections.

- Visits from local colleges
Classes from eastern Iowa colleges visit the Herbarium to learn about 
collections and how they are utilized.

- Web site
The Herbarium web site serves as both an educational and outreach tool that 
has averaged 4,000 Successful Requests for Pages and over 900 Distinct 
Hosts Served per month since its inception in April 2002.

- Mailing List
In 1998, the Iowa Native Plants Mailing (e-mail) List was established to 
provide a forum for those interested in environmental and conservation 
issues related to Iowa's natural vegetation and habitats, and there are 
over 250 current subscribers.

- Web Site and Endangered Species
The web site serves as a vehicle to emphasize the vital role of collections 
in developing endangered species lists, and provides extensive information 
on Iowa’s endangered species legislation (see “Iowa’s Fragile Flora”).  The 
web site includes the “Fragile Flora Database” with all state listings of 
rare plants since 1977.

- Book Based on IA’s Collections
A recently published book, An Illustrated Guide to Iowa Prairie Plants by 
Paul Christiansen and Mark Müller (1999, University of Iowa Press) is 
comprised of illustrations and county dot maps based on University of Iowa 
Herbarium specimens.

- Resource for Local botanists
Local botanists not affiliated with the university utilize the Herbarium 
extensively as a resource for identifying collections made in connection 
with inventories of state preserves for the Iowa State Preserves Advisory 
Board, and as a repository for voucher specimens.

- Presentations about the Herbarium and Collections
Two presentations, Herbarium Specimens:  A Vital Link to the Natural World, 
and Iowa’s Fragile Flora, are utilized (Cedar Rapids Audubon Society, 2003; 
Community College Biology Teachers annual meeting, 2002; Iowa Association 
of Naturalists annual meeting; 2001; and Sierra Club Iowa Chapter, Central 
Group meeting, 2001) to ‘get the word out’ that collections in general and 
those in this Herbarium in particular are a vital resource.

Diana Horton
Director and Curator, University of Iowa Herbarium
Associate Professor, Biological Sciences
312 CB
University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA  52242-1297

Ph.:    319-335-1320
E-mail: diana-horton at
Herbarium web site:   

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