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Informing our successors: What botanical information for Santa Cruz Island will researchers and conservation managers in the century ahead need the most?

January 1, 2019

Climate changes are predicted to drive changes in plant species composition and vegetation cover around the world. Preserved specimens and other botanical information that we gather today—a period future practitioners may look back on as an early stage of modern anthropogenic climate change—will be of value to conservation managers and conservation biologists in the decades and centuries ahead. Here, we present suggestions for the systematic collection, long-term curation (in museums, herbaria, and other research institutions), and maintenance of plant specimens, along with associated data and analyses on the plants and vegetation present today and in the past. The primary aim of this systematic survey is to provide information of high value to conservation researchers and managers both in the near term (the next several years) and through the century to come. Such a systematic survey would build on a strong foundation of research and adaptive management on the island. It would fill gaps in less well-studied groups of organisms and identify environmental, ecological, and cultural factors related to current patterns of distribution. It would also archive previously collected data, photographs, and other materials which would otherwise gradually degrade and become inaccessible. As a case study, we use Santa Cruz Island, California, which is managed for conservation. We are confident that the same approach may be applied to other lands and waters around the world. We argue that there is a particular need to collect and archive herbarium specimens and seeds from today's populations, activities largely overlooked in recent decades. We encourage conservation researchers and managers to consider what information will be most important for future managers and to help launch studies, monitoring programs, and collections to prepare their successors for success.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2018
Title Informing our successors: What botanical information for Santa Cruz Island will researchers and conservation managers in the century ahead need the most?
DOI 10.3398/064.078.0427
Authors John M. Randall, Kathryn McEachern, John Knapp, Paula Power, Steve Junak, Kristina Gill, Denise Knapp, Matt Guilliams
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Western North American Naturalist
Index ID 70202365
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center