Royal Ontario Museum



[Museum] Approaches to the Study of Biodiversity


Plants online


You were assigned a species in the course of the visit to the ROM Green Plant Herbarium on 5 October, last week. In the herbarium the class collected data on the kinds of information associated with individual herbarium specimens of these species. Please follow up on the brief classroom activity in which we briefly reviewed what these kinds of information were, and collate the class observations into a single list. This list should be shared with all your classmates and with me by Tuesday, 11 October, so that we can refer to it in class when we meet on Wednesday.


Before coming to class on Wednesday, 12 October, please visit the following websites in order to browse content on the listservers, herbaria and taxacom:

You may also find it interesting or useful to join these listservers yourself, by visiting these websites:




Please remember that the lecture and lab this week will both be held in Ramsay Wright 107. If you do not already have a CQUEST login please obtain one immediately by visiting this site:


Data retrieval tools (taxonomic data, floristic data, specimen data)

  CANADENSYS community  
  Biodiversity Heritage Library  
  eFlora BC  
  Atlas of the Oregon Flora  
  NYBG Virtual Herbarium (the U.S. Virtual Herbarium project seems to have been taken offline)  
  Index Herbariorum  
  Flora North America (an example of an online version of a print project)  

Google Earth is invaluable as a check on the geographic coordinates provided in some of the database records you can access, e.g. via Tropicos (use the "Fly to" box at the top left of the window). Would you bet the farm on coordinates currently available to you? Re georeferencing, click HERE for links to some additional tools.

Note that if the species you were assigned does not occur (other than, perhaps, occasional garden escapes or in arboreta or botanical gardens) in a particular jurisdiction, then search on the genus, and choose a native (or naturalized) species to investigate further.


Identification tools

Datasets in DELTA (for data retrieval and identification)
LSU Herbarium - interactive keys

Data aggregators

  Encyclopedia of Life  
  Catalog of Life  
  Tree of Life  

Database standards, tools, etc.

Note that the tools referenced here are used in association with the development of specimen databases. This activity is beyond the scope of these lectures, but the issues addressed by these sites are not.

  Darwin Core  

Lecture slides, 12 October 2011


| The ROM Green Plant Herbarium | Plants and their Classification | Plants online | Uses of Plant Specimens |
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© 2011 Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto.

Please send your comments to; last updated 12-Nov-2011