Division of Botany personnel participate in a variety of curatorial, fieldwork, and education & outreach related activities that utilize and enhance the Division of Botany holdings. Some current projects are highlighted below.
As part of an effort to document our holdings and to make our collection more widely accessible, we are digitizing our Connecticut vascular plant specimens. Our digitization workflow results in a high resolution TIFF image and an EMu catalog record for each specimen. To increase throughput, we utilize a variety of custom built applications and scripts and OCR (HERBIS) and voice-recognition software. Since mid-2008 we have imaged and databased over 35,000 specimens. Catalog records for digitized Divisional holdings are available through the Peabody Museum's data sharing portal.
The Division of Botany has partnered with Common Ground School to enlist students to assist in a vascular plant inventory of West Rock State Park. West Rock State Park is one of the most botanically interesting areas in Connecticut. Yet, no systematic inventory of the plants occurring the park has been conducted and most existing plant occurrence records are over one hundred years old. To document what currently occurs in West Rock State Park and environs, the Peabody Museum Division of Botany is conducting a multi-year plant inventory of the area. The variety of habitats and botanical diversity of the park make it an ideal outdoor classroom setting where area students can study natural history and ecology related topics. The students directly participate in the inventory in a variety of ways, including collecting GPS tagged digital images of plants that they encounter and participating in inquiry driven lessons that tie into their curriculum.
In support of research being conducted by Divisional personnel, we are conducting a series of expeditions to various localities across the planet. Our most recent expedition during the summer of 2009 was to to the Ecuadorian Andes (read more). The main focus of the Yale expedition was to collect plants in the genus Viburnum, a group that has been a long-term focus of study for Division of Botany Curator Michael Donoghue and his students and post-docs. We are currently making arrangements for our next expedition, which will be to visit montane areas of Malaysia and Vietnam to collect additional material of Viburnum.