Cataloguing and data collection for Plymouth State University herbarium (PSH)

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Student Showcase of Research & Engagement 2018
Treanor, Matthew
In today's world of instant information, some argue that physical information centers (e.g., libraries, museums) are obsolete. The Plymouth State University Herbarium (PSH) is one such information center that was actively utilized but was forgotten until it was rediscovered in 2016. Our objective was to assess the value of PSH, first in terms of its possible utilization for teaching botany-related courses, and second in terms of its representation of the flora of New England. We hypothesized that there would be around 4000 specimens in total based on coarse visual analysis. We also predicted at least 50 percent of the New England angiosperm flora would be represented in our collection. We began by organizing all specimens alphabetically by family, genus, and species. Next, we checked the taxonomy to verify and update the specimen names and validity. We found that a total of 5,631 angiosperm specimens were present, almost half of which are historic, and that 70 percent of New England's angiosperm flora is represented. As student collections are incorporated, PSH collections will not only increase in size and diversity, but can also help to increase the notability of the herbarium as well as the plant sciences program at Plymouth State University.