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Mr. Smarty Plants - How is native range changed in the scientific record?

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Monday - March 28, 2011

From: Bowling Green, KY
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: General Botany
Title: How is native range changed in the scientific record?
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I am accessioning Pachysandra procumbens for the Baker Arboretum. These plants were made from cuttings of a native stand here in Warren County (Western KY). How does the record get amended to reflect a greater native distribution?

ANSWER:

Scientific data, such as botanical names, physical characteristics and species range, are all entered into the literature through valid publication.  This usually means that an article is published in a scientific (peer reviewed) journal or other publication, though valid publication can sometimes be accomplished in other ways such as publication of scholarly books or presentation of papers at scientific conferences.

Native range information can also be increased by collection, cataloging and preservation of herbarium specimens.  Databased herbarium specimens are the basis for most scientifically valid range maps.  For example, the range map for Pachysandra procumbens (Allegheny spurge) on the USDA Plants web page for Kentucky shows the species as occuring in Warren County as well as a number of other counties.  As herbaria add wild-growing specimens collected from other counties and states, the information about those new data eventually make their way into the scientific literature and onto online range maps.

 

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