Expansion of the New York Botanical Garden Herbarium to Incorporate Newly Acquired Specimens and Improve Curation

Barbara M. Thiers, Roy Halling, Andrew Henderson, Kenneth G. Karol, and James Lendemer

This project allows the expansion of The William and Lynda Steere Herbarium in order to accommodate an additional 160,000 specimens of algae, fungi and palms. Herbarium specimens hold data that researchers use to re-create past landscapes and predict how vegetation will change over time. Specimens also contain nearly limitless information about the genetic makeup of organisms, their reproductive patterns, their adaptations for different types of habitats, and their relationships to other organisms. All of these data are urgently needed to contribute to the solutions to four key societal needs, namely sustainable food production, ecosystem restoration, biofuel production and improvement in human health. The algae, bryophytes, fungi and palms are all under-studied groups with demonstrated but incompletely documented ecological and economic importance. This project will create an additional 2,798 cubbyholes of herbarium storage space, the curation of specimens will be improved and 92,000 specimens will be digitized.