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Arnold Arboretum

Collection Researcher – Getting Started

Collection Researcher is a geographic information system (GIS) web mapping application that helps you explore, search, and learn about the Arnold Arboretum’s living plant collection through the convenience of your web browser. It makes it easy to find plants in the landscape by name or accession number, create and save plant lists, search related online collections, and annotate a map to print or save.

To facilitate the curation and management of its living collections, the Arboretum maintains a dynamic GIS in house. By merging the visual aspects of a map with the analytical power of a database, our GIS enables staff to view and interpret data about the collections to reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts. With Collection Researcher, the power of our GIS can be shared with specialist visitors and the general public to aid their explorations of the Arboretum landscape.

Please note: Collection Researcher is not configured for mobile use; however, development of this capability is among the priorities for future enhancements of the application, as ESRI features several tools that enable mobile devices.


Collection Researcher

Use the Navigation Tools in the upper-left corner of the map to Pan, Zoom, and to move between Extents. Hold your mouse over a button to find out what it does. Click on the handle on the Zoom Slider to adjust the scale of your view.

Use the Overview Map by clicking on the arrow in the lower-right corner of the map to see a zoomed overview of your current map extent. Click and drag the red Extent Rectangle to quickly move the map to another location.


Collection Researcher

Use the Bookmarks widget in the top center of the application to quickly navigate to different areas of the landscape by clicking on its name. Add your own temporary bookmarks based on your current view by clicking on the Add Bookmark button at the top of the widget.

Map Contents

Collection Researcher

Use the Map Contents widget in the top center of the application to turn map layers on and off, change the transparency of layers, get information about each layer, and see the symbols associated with features on the map.


Collection Researcher

Use the Search widget in the top center of the application to search for plants. There are several different options when searching. Currently, results do not sort alphabetically; plants will be listed in the order in which they appear in the database.

Graphical Search

If you hover over the far-left binocular icon, you will see this is the Graphical Search tool. Click on this to manually select plants by drawing on the map with a selection tool.

Text Search

The center binocular icon, Text Search, can be used to search for a plant by partial or complete scientific name, common name, family name, or accession number.

Spatial Search

To use the far-right binocular icon, Spatial Search, you must already have plants selected using one of the other two search options. You can then click the Spatial Search to add additional plants to your selection by creating a buffer around your current selection and choosing a selection type.

Show Results in Grid

View additional information about your search results by clicking on the Show Results in Grid button at the top of the widget. You can export your results to a file for viewing in a text editor or spreadsheet application.

Search for images of each selected plant in Google Images, plant profiles in the USDA PLANTS database, specimens in the Harvard University Herbaria, names in The Plant List, research articles in Google Scholar, germplasm in GRIN, and DNA sequences in GenBank by clicking on the appropriate icon in the search results.

Draw and Measure

Collection Researcher

Use the Draw and Measure widget in the top center of the application to mark the map with your own shapes and text by selecting a drawing tool, setting appearance properties, and drawing on the map. Show measurements for your drawings in the units of your choice by selecting the Show Measurements option. Please note that you must minimize the active measure box before starting your line if its termination point falls under the box. If your computer’s mouse includes a scrolling wheel, you may be able to use it to zoom in and out while drawing.

Export PDF

Collection Researcher

Use the Export PDF widget in the top-center of the application to create an Adobe Portable Document Format map of the current map view.  Choose a page size from the drop-down list, and choose to include plant attributes if you would like to view and search plant information in your PDF.

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