North American Network of Small Herbaria
The North American Network of Small Herbaria is an open access data portal provided by Symbiota and intended to foster digitization of small collections and facilitate collaboration among institutions. The establishment of this portal is the result of collaboration between Symbiota and iDigBio's Small Herbarium Working Group (https://www.idigbio.org/wiki/index.php/Small_Herbarium_Interest_Group). To learn how to join the working group or network, contact Anna Monfils (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Gil Nelson (email@example.com).
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Small herbaria constitute a major source of information for understanding North America's plant diversity. These collections are typically regional in scope with strong ecological, taxonomic, and geographic biases. They frequently hold specimens that are unduplicated in larger herbaria and usually represent intense samplings of community composition that significantly expand our knowledge of landscape-level biogeography. As a result, they are singularly important to the study of regionally and nationally significant natural communities.
Until recently, access to the wealth of biodiversity data stored in small herbaria has been hampered by travel requirements, insufficient staff, and long-term loans that render specimens unavailable for extended periods. With the advent of biodiversity collections digitization, small herbaria are now poised to overcome these obstacles by making label data and specimen images readily available online through searchable electronic databases. As more institutions take advantage of open-source, community-supported digitization software, the online presence of small collections will rapidly increase and with it the volume of available biodiversity data.