San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionSDNHM Biodiversity Research Center of the Californias
BRCC
Binational Multidisciplinary Expeditions
Agua Verde-Punta
  Mechudo 2003

Isla Guadalupe 2000
Lindblad Binational 1997
On Collecting and
  Expeditions: A Botanical
  Perspective

What is the next step after collecting?

Natural History Expeditions to Northern Baja California Sur:
A Botanical Perspective

By Jon Rebman, Curator of Botany

Why do we go on natural history expeditions?
Why do we collect and make scientific specimens?
Why are we exploring northern Baja California Sur?
What is the next step after collecting?
What about future expeditions?

After going to the field to observe, record, and collect, the scientists' work has only just begun. The processing and identification of the many specimens collected on an expedition takes much time. Plant specimens are dried and frozen to preserve them and to remove all possible pests. Literature such as floristic manuals, vascular plant checklists, and taxonomic monographs are consulted in order to identify the plant species. Often, after close microscopic evaluation, some plant specimens may show characters different from what is considered to be the norm for the species. These cryptic differences may fall into the range of morphological variability for the species or may distinguish new entities that with further investigation should be taxonomically recognized. After identification, specimens are processed further by labelling, sorting, mounting, accessioning, and filing. Specimens are formally deposited into an herbarium collection so that other scientists can access and find particular specimens which voucher the research study.

Accumulated specimens for a particular region serve as the scientific data for compiling a floristic inventory. Approximately 840 plants were collected by the botanists on the Lindblad Binational Expedition. Preliminary visits and a subsequent expedition to central Lower California have added at least 250 other plant collections. It is our plan to compile all collected plant material and publish a preliminary checklist of the vascular flora of the Sierra San Francisco and Sierra Guadalupe so that others will know what plants occur in the areas.