Herbaria Integration at LSU
Herbaria serve as crucial documentation of the natural world. Their dried, pressed specimens are of multidimensional importance: they are documentation of plant occurrence through space and time; markers of taxonomic and nomenclatural identity; evidence of plant-animal interactions; and sources of DNA for molecular studies. In recent years, there has been a resurgence in the acknowledgement of the importance of natural history specimens to modern biological research. Despite this resurgence and broad application of specimens in research a number of regional collections have recently closed and the collections orphaned. The Shirley C. Tucker Herbarium at Louisiana State University (LSU) has been the recipient of a large portion of these orphaned collections. This has resulted in a near doubling in the size of the collection, from 207,500 specimens in 2015 to an estimated 400,000. While The Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) has become the new owner of the University of Louisiana, Monroe (NLU) herbarium, once the largest in the state, nearly 60,000 specimens were generously repatriated to LSU. A major integration project funded by The National Science Foundation (NSF Awards: #1745618 and #1756469) provided support to rescue, consolidate, and accession these herbaria. This diagram is a summary of the integration at LSU.
The Cyberflora Louisiana project (NSF Awards: #0847856 and #1410445) was a monumental effort to bring in the era of natural history collections digitization and resulted in high resolution image of every plant specimen from 15 of Louisiana’s herbaria. Louisiana State University manages the server that hosts the Louisiana-based specimen images on the SERNEC portal. In spite of personnel turnover and herbaria consolidations that stagnated progress in specimen digitization for many of the state's herbaria, The Shirley C. Tucker Herbarium is here to provide training and support in order to continue the work began with Cyberflora Louisiana and make our specimens more secure and accessible for research. It also compiles and updates a listing of the known herbaria in the state. Please reach out if you have any concerns or questions regarding possible orphaned collections.