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Abstract Detail

Teaching Section

Krimmel, Erica R. [1], Linton, Debra L. [2], Marsico, Travis D. [3], Monfils, Anna [4], Morris, Ashley [5], Ruhfel, Brad [6].

Connecting Students to Citizen Science and Curated Collections.

Small natural history collections often depend heavily on the motivation and inspiration of only one or a few individuals. Additionally, these collections may be integral to undergraduate curricula at their home institutions. College-level plant diversity courses (e.g., plant systematics) often involve a collection project. These projects are designed to help students learn to correctly identify, document, and preserve specimens useful for scientific study. While these projects are invaluable learning tools, the specimens and associated data are often not incorporated into herbaria or online databases for a number of reasons, many of which are related to specimen quality or perceived utility of those specimens. We developed a new project and associated website ( designed to promote best practices in student herbarium collections in the digital age. The project integrates traditional taxonomic practices, ongoing citizen science initiatives, and digital-age curatorial skills. The final goal is to produce archival-quality, research-ready plant observations and collections that will become part of our national biodiversity archive. Students keep a detailed field notebook, collect and document specimens for archival purposes, and use traditional and emerging tools to reliably identify plant species. Additionally, students interact with iNaturalist, an observation-based online tool designed to bring together professionals and citizen scientists documenting biodiversity. Data can then be directly exported from iNaturalist into the Symbiota digital collection management platform, creating an opportunity to work with the virtual herbarium community and incorporate student collections into a database without creating legacy data. This project was integrated into courses taught by three of the collaborators in the 2014-2015 academic year. Pre- and post-test data were collected to assess student learning gains from the experience. Through it, students produced research-grade observations that have already become part of our national biodiversity archive, and moreover, the students created research-ready plant collections that can more readily be accessioned by the curators into valuable, accessible specimens with less backlog time than many standard student-to-herbarium workflows.

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Related Links:
Connecting Students to Citizen Science and Curated Collections

1 - 13165 Moraine Rd, Truckee, CA, 96161, USA
2 - Central Michigan University, Department of Biology, 180 Brooks Hall, Mount Pleasant, MI, 48859, USA
3 - Arkansas State University, Department Of Biological Sciences, PO Box 599, State University, AR, 72467, USA
4 - Central Michigan University, 180 Brooks Hall, Mount Pleasant, MI, 48859, USA, 989-774-2492
5 - Middle Tennessee State University, Department Of Biology, 1500 Greenland Drive, Box 60, Murfreesboro, TN, 37132, USA
6 - Eastern Kentucky University, Department Of Biological Sciences, 521 Lancaster Avenue, Moore Building, Rm 349, Richmond, KY, 40475, USA


Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 44
Location: Salon 9/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
Time: 2:30 PM
Number: 44005
Abstract ID:719
Candidate for Awards:None

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