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Digitizing Engelmann's Legacy

Mapping Plant Specimens that Document the Great American Frontier.

Presented at the ESRI Education Users Conference. July 13, 2010. San Diego, CA.

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Digitizing Engelmann's Legacy

  1. 1. Digitizing Engelmann’s Legacy: <ul><li>Chris Freeland </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Director, Center for Biodiversity Informatics Missouri Botanical Garden </li></ul></ul>Mapping Plant Specimens that Document the Great American Frontier ESRI Education User Conference – July 13, 2010 – San Diego, CA
  2. 2. Project objectives <ul><li>Select, database & image 8,000 herbarium specimens from pioneering expeditions into the American frontier </li></ul><ul><li>Digitize 100 volumes of field literature </li></ul><ul><li>Integrate geospatial analysis tools into Tropicos ( ) </li></ul><ul><li>Make all data openly available at </li></ul>Agave wislizenii Engelm.
  3. 3. MOBOT: Now
  4. 4. <ul><li>Founded by Henry Shaw </li></ul><ul><li>Opened to the public in 1859 </li></ul><ul><li>Public display + education + science </li></ul>MOBOT: Then
  5. 5. MOBOT Science: Now
  6. 6. MOBOT Science: Then George Engelmann Asa Gray Wm. Jackson Hooker
  7. 7. George Engelmann (1809 – 1884) <ul><li>Physician & amateur botanist </li></ul><ul><li>Founder of St. Louis Academy of Sciences </li></ul><ul><li>Founding member of National Academy of Sciences </li></ul>Thanks, Wikipedia!
  8. 8. US botanical exploration post-Lewis & Clark St. Louis: Gateway to the West ? X Engelmann more … Josiah Gregg Freidrich Wislizenus Ferdinand Lindheimer
  9. 9. Heuchera sanguinea Engelm. Plant specimens document occurrence Collection Information Collectors: <ul><li>Wislizenus </li></ul>Collection Number: 210 Collection Date: 06 October 1846 Location: Mexico, Chihuahua Elevation: 7,000 ft Description: Crimson flower Locality: Mountains, rocks, at Llanos near Cosiquiriachi.
  10. 10. Data origin & annotation over time ^ 2.Herbarium label: synthesized data < 1.Field label: origin of data ^ 3.Annotation: locality 4.Annotation: revision >
  11. 11. Data Storage:
  12. 12. Tropicos : <ul><li>MOBOT’s botanical information system </li></ul><ul><ul><li>3.8 million specimen records </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1.2 million plant names </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>98,000 collectors / authors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>140,000 images </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Maps via ESRI tools & other technologies… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ArcIMS in 2000, just recently taken offline </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ArcGIS Server 9.3 & JavaScript API in 2009-2010 </li></ul></ul>
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  16. 18. Geocoding legacy collections = hard, skilled work < Geocode? Read??
  17. 19. Field notebooks & historic printed literature can help
  18. 20. Neat-o! But…why is this important?? <ul><li>First documented occurrence of plant species in the American frontier </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Westward expansion brought invasive plants, habitat loss, other pressures on native plants </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Base data for secondary analyses </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can do things with the data after “unlocking” them from physical storage </li></ul></ul><ul><li>American scientific & cultural heritage </li></ul>These specimens represent:
  19. 21. Heuchera sanguinea = Coral bells Common Name: coral bells
Zone: 3 to 9 
Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Saxifragaceae
Native Range: Western United States
Height: 1 to 1.5 feet
  20. 22. Acknowledgements <ul><li>ESRI </li></ul><ul><li>Institute of Museum & Library Services </li></ul><ul><li>Tropicos Development team: Jay Paige, Heather Stimmel, Craig Geil </li></ul><ul><li>MOBOT Herbarium staff </li></ul><ul><li>MOBOT Library & Archives staff </li></ul><ul><li>Botanists, scientists, students, explorers </li></ul><ul><li>And of course, George Engelmann! </li></ul>
  21. 23. Links & Resources <ul><li>Engelmann Project: </li></ul><ul><li>Tropicos: </li></ul><ul><li>Biodiversity Heritage Library: </li></ul><ul><li>Missouri Botanical Garden: </li></ul><ul><li>MOBOT Images: </li></ul>
  22. 24. Thanks! Questions? <ul><li>Chris Freeland </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Director, Center for Biodiversity Informatics Missouri Botanical Garden </li></ul></ul>Email: [email_address] Twitter: @chrisfreeland Blog / info: Flickr: