Closure of the Iowa Herbarium: The Issue and The Impact

Diana Horton diana-horton at UIOWA.EDU
Tue Dec 16 14:22:59 CST 2003

The Issue:  Organismal and Environmental Biology
It has been suggested that the situation with the University of Iowa
Herbarium is different from others where herbaria are being closed, because
the University of Iowa collections will be transferred to Iowa State
University.  It is crucial for people to understand that, if the
administration's plan is carried out, this Herbarium will be closed, and
there will be far-reaching, long-term negative impacts for organismal and
environmental biology at the University of Iowa (see below).  Even though
the collections will be accessible elsewhere, closure of this Herbarium
will severely undermine organismal and environmental biology at this
university.  It is on this basis that we ask you to support our efforts and
sign the petition.

If you have time to write a letter of support, please address it to
University of Iowa President Skorton (david-skorton at and copy to
me (diana-horton at

The Impact:  Loss of a centre for organismal and environmental studies
- Over the last ten years, more than 10 native species never before
recorded from the state have been discovered in eastern Iowa by people
using the Herbarium.

- Over the last ten years, 100 publications/reports/creative works and over
30 theses have been based on use of the Herbarium

- Over the same 10-year period, class use of the Herbarium averaged over
300 students/yr in 10-12 courses

- We have an active outreach program that includes presentations to
conservation groups, schools and colleges, and the Herbarium web site
( averages over 4,000 Requests for
Pages and over 1,000 Distinct Hosts Served monthly

Undoubtedly, field investigations of plants in eastern Iowa, the region
with the greatest biodiversity, will be greatly reduced, even though our
work over the last 10-15 years demonstrates that there is a great deal
still to be learned about plant distributions in this part of the
state.  The loss of the Herbarium also will compromise the quality of the
educational experience for Liberal Arts students at the University of Iowa
and it will seriously undermine the Green Track of the popular
Environmental Sciences Program.  Our outreach program, via presentations;
tours for students from surrounding colleges and schools; assistance with
identification; and the Herbarium web site, will cease.  Overall, fewer
people will learn about plants, collections-based research, the environment
and conservation, and fewer will have ready access to a vital resource for
assessing the environment.  In short, the closure of the University of Iowa
Herbarium will eliminate a centre for organismal and environmental studies,
and reduce the resources dedicated to promoting these vital aspects of biology.

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

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