ROLE OF HERBARIA IN EFFORTS TO CONSERVE ENDANGERED SPECIES
Herbarium collections are an important part of the
attempt to protect endangered plants. Herbaria are the best source of
information documenting the presence of any species within an area. The
plant vouchers stored in herbaria have labels which describe where and
when the plant was collected, and (if the collector has done a good job)
information on the type of habitat, associated species and the size and
health of the population from which the voucher was taken. From this information,
gathered from all herbaria in the region, the researcher can get a good
understanding of how the species is distributed and how common it is.
This label information is also helpful in identifying what kind of habitat
is necessary for the species.
A herbarium is also an essential resource for the training of botanists
who will study natural ecosystems and native plants, including endangered
species. They are also often important sources of the published literature
relevant to endangered species. When rare species are similar in appearance
to other, more common species, the information necessary to distinguish
them is usually gleaned from the information associated with the vouchers.