Herbarium Specimens Provide Potential Wealth of Climate Impact Data

New research published in the Journal of Ecology demonstrates one of the many values of natural history collections.  Researchers in the United Kingdom have shown that preserved plant specimens can be used in place of field observations to determine the impacts of climate change on phenology.  The team compared specimens of early spider orchids (Ophrys sphegodes) from several collections with field observations of the species.  They found that the flowering times inferred from the herbarium specimens matched the observations of earlier flowering in nature.  According to the paper’s co-author Tony Davy, the data “enables us to predict what the effects of a change in climate are going to be,” which is especially useful when field observation are not available.  Given the large number of specimens in collections around the world, the potential exists for a huge amount of information, according to Davy.  To read the article published by BBC, visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11377192.