Nunatsiaq News: Volunteers sought to help build online database of Arctic botany. “Do you have some time on your hands, a computer and internet connection, and a desire to help improve the world’s understanding of Arctic plants? If so, Jennifer Doubt wants to enlist you as a citizen scientist. Doubt, the Canadian Museum of Nature’s curator of botany, is seeking help to tackle a monumental task. The museum’s botanical collection, known as the National Herbarium, contains more than one million plant specimens, including the world’s best collection of samples from the Canadian Arctic.”
Leiden University: New database reveals plants’ secret relationships with fungi. “Almost all vascular plants have a relationship with a fungus in their roots that allow them to obtain nutrients from the soil. This relationship, called mycorrhiza, is symbiotic, since the fungi too benefit from it. It is so important that most plant species would not be able survive without it. Until now, information on this symbiotic relationship has been scattered throughout myriad scientific publications.”
Cornell Chronicle: Botanic Gardens’ Wildflower Explorations goes online. “The Cornell Botanic Gardens’ hands-on wildflower discovery program now is available online, making the ephemeral flowers of spring available from home or by virtual class instruction. During a typical spring, most Ithaca area third-graders participate in Wildflower Explorations, which includes in-classroom preparation and an instructional visit to the Mundy Wildflower Garden. It is one of the Kids Discover the Trail experience-based programs, where children visit eight cultural and historic sites in Tompkins County during their school years. With schools closed for COVID-19 containment, Cornell Botanic Gardens adapted the program for virtual learning and fun.”
Commonwealth Journal: New Tool For Identifying Pests of Woody Plants. “The University of Kentucky Department of Entomology has created a new, interactive website to help concerned tree owners identify their insect problems. The ‘Guide to Insect Pests of Woody Plants’ will hopefully be of use to you if you have the pest in hand or if you just have the damage they left behind.”
Nursery Management: New free Horticulture Careers Internship Search Tool connects students to practical job experience. “On Jan. 30, Seed Your Future announced the launch of its new free online Horticulture Careers Internship Search Tool to help students find internships across the broad diversity of the horticulture profession. This is the newest resource from Seed Your Future, a coalition of more than 200 partners — including horticulture companies, gardening organizations, schools, colleges, universities, public gardens, youth organizations, nonprofit organizations and individual advocates — united in their mission to promote horticulture and careers working with plants.”
University of Washington: Better wildfire and smoke predictions with new vegetation database. “Researchers from the University of Washington and Michigan Technological University have created the first comprehensive database of all the wildfire fuels that have been measured across North America. Called the North American Wildland Fuel Database, the tool incorporates the best available measurements of vegetation in specific locations, and allows fire managers to see where information about fuels is missing altogether.”
Mongabay: New assessment method finds close to one-third of tropical Africa’s plants are potentially facing extinction . “New research finds that nearly one-third — 31.7 percent — of tropical Africa’s vascular plant species might be at risk of going extinct. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species is the go-to resource for conservation status assessments, but while the majority of vertebrate species have been assessed, we know far less about the conservation status of plants, especially in the tropics.”
Computing: Kew Gardens plans to digitise and release Darwin’s data . “Kew Gardens is planning to implement an integrated collections management system to unify its disparate databases and make their data available to the world. Whilst most think of the sculpted gardens when they think of Kew, and as a plot of land which is home to over 30,000 trees that’s unsurprising, most are unaware that it’s also a centre of scientific research, and home to the world’s most extensive botanic collections.”
Phys .org: Scientists use machine-learning algorithms to help automate plant studies. “Father of genetics Gregor Mendel spent years tediously observing and measuring pea plant traits by hand in the 1800s to uncover the basics of genetic inheritance. Today, botanists can track the traits, or phenotypes, of hundreds or thousands of plants much more quickly, with automated camera systems. Now, Salk researchers have helped speed up plant phenotyping even more, with machine-learning algorithms that teach a computer system to analyze three-dimensional shapes of the branches and leaves of a plant.”
Florida Museum: Digital records of preserved plants and animals change how scientists explore the world. “There’s a whole world behind the scenes at natural history museums that most people never see. Museum collections house millions upon millions of dinosaur bones, pickled sharks, dried leaves, and every other part of the natural world you can think of–more than could ever be put on display. Instead, these specimens are used in research by scientists trying to understand how different kinds of life evolved and how we can protect them. And a new study in Plos One delves into how scientists are using digital records of all these specimens.”
California State University Long Beach: University’s Plant Collection Now Part Of National Database. “Up until recently, [Dr. Amanda] Fisher has had to rely largely on Cal State Long Beach’s collection of 18,00 physical specimens to conduct her research, dried local plants pressed onto 13×18 sheets on low-acid paper. If she wanted to view others from outside the Long Beach area, she would have to navigate the freeways. Today, however, with a few clicks of her computer mouse, Fisher, a professor in the biological sciences department, can study hundreds of thousands of digitized specimens from around the country online from a data base that now includes those collected by Cal State Long Beach researchers and students.”
Xinhua: China launches online database on camellia varieties. “The database has more than 45,000 names and 33,000 pictures of camellia varieties including ornamental, tea and oil species. Users can search the name of camellia varieties in different languages including English, Chinese and Japanese.” Unfortunately the story does not have a link to the database, which is here: http://camellia.iflora.cn/ .
Quartz: Pl@ntNet is the world’s best social network . “Pl@ntNet (pronounced plant-net) is the only social app that always makes me happier. Likened to Shazam for plants, it was developed a decade ago by a consortium of computer science and botanical research institutions in France. In almost every way, Pl@ntNet is unlike other social networks.”
The Island Connection: Town Of Kiawah Island Releases Grow Native Plant Database. “The database was designed to help promote the use of native plants on the island and serve as a resource for residents, landscapers, landscape architects, landscape designers, and other entities. This searchable database includes native trees, shrubs, perennials, vines, ferns, and grasses and allows users to filter and find plants based on a variety of criteria, including plant type, size, light requirements, soil requirements, flower color, salt tolerance, deer resistance, and more. There are currently 196 plants in the database, but the list will be expanded over time.” I know this is just for one city, but what an unbelievable project and great way to get residents to assist in addressing ecosystem conservation and development.
Indiana University: Indiana University Herbarium completes massive plant digitization project. “Indiana University has completed work to make publicly available its collection of more than 160,000 preserved plant specimens, including over 72,000 specimens representing Indiana flora.”