Plants under quarantine
As the influenza pandemic raced through the United States in 1918, new quarantines were simultaneously implemented to slow (if not stop) the introduction of new plant pests and diseases.
In its nearly 150-year history, The Arnold Arboretum has played an extraordinary role in botanical exploration of the temperate and tropical regions of the world, with an emphasis on the woody floras of North America and Eastern Asia. To accomplish the task of documenting the botanical diversity of these regions, the Arboretum has dispatched its own staff collectors, collaborated with other institutions, and contracted with other individuals to make collections from wild populations of plants. These expeditions to collect germplasm (plants and seeds) and herbarium vouchers have strongly supported the institution's commitment to scientific research, conservation, education, and horticulture.
Expeditions Unveiled is the Arboretum’s first--and ongoing--effort to comprehensively define, quantify, and organize the Arboretum’s botanical exploration efforts. The webpages assembled here serve as a public resource for information chronicling specific exploration efforts and collection events where germplasm or preserved plant specimens were added to the collections of the Arnold Arboretum. For organizational purposes, the following definitions have been used:
The Timeline features 118 collection events that occurred since 1876, in some 60 different nations and territories. Each event listed contains basic descriptive information, while a number also include links to profiles comprising narrative summaries, images, and links to additional resources. Only events that contain sufficient basic details (e.g., dates, locations, participants) appear. Over time, additional historical events will be added as archives are reviewed and new information is gathered. Future Arboretum expeditions will be added shortly after the conclusion of each, with new profiles containing trip images, trip reports, and other information as they become available. For more information about the Expeditions Unveiled project, click on the About tab.
Expeditions Unveiled is an ongoing effort to define, inventory, and summarize the Arboretum’s history of plant exploration. The project initially developed in 2014 from a simple question we were unable to answer: How many expeditions have been mounted by and with the Arnold Arboretum?
|2||Quantify the number of expeditions mounted by or with the Arboretum from 1872-present|
|3||Qualify expeditions consistently and systematically|
|4||Analyze expeditions for themes and trends|
|5||Archive findings internally, and provide summaries for the public on the Arboretum website|
With nearly a century-and-a-half of domestic and international travel (not all of which was for the purposes of collecting), we soon discovered that in order to answer our question, we first needed to define what an expedition was, and what it was not (Goal 1). Simply put, collecting expeditions were defined as events that added germplasm or preserved plant specimens to the collections of the Arnold Arboretum, in contrast to other Arboretum travel and research projects. We then needed further definition to distinguish formal and planned expeditions from the informal (yet important) collecting activities enjoyed by Arboretum staff and associates over the years. We applied the following definitions during our review:
The next step was to review our curatorial and library archives (including annual Director’s Reports), as well as the plant records database, to catalog in a spreadsheet all events that might be potentially defined as expeditions, even if it was a remote chance. The Director’s Reports were summaries of each fiscal year’s activities and frequently contained basic data pertaining to collecting and other travel events (e.g., dates, participants, or locations); they were particularly useful for getting information on historical activities. After generating this comprehensive list, we applied our definitions to determine which of them could be defined as expeditions, and if so, what type. The analysis revealed 389 activities that occurred between 1872 and 2014, 202 which we could associate as some sort of collection event. The next step was to separate the informal collecting activities from the formal expeditions, and then categorize the expeditions using our definitions (Goal 2). To do this, we surveyed our own and other institutional records, published reports and articles, and other resources to gather documentation on essential event details such as travel dates, participants, and of course stated objectives and other evidence of planning. This yielded a count of 152 expeditions (13 campaigns, 33 contracts, 96 Arboretum expeditions, and 10 non-Arnold Arboretum expeditions) and 50 events that we determined were not actual expeditions or where there was too little information to make any further determination. During this assessment, the Arboretum participated in three new expeditions in 2015, bringing the total count to 155.
In addition to creating a comprehensive inventory of collection events, we have begun to capture as many Expedition Summary Details about each one as possible, such as its duration, geographical location(s), and individual participants (Goal 3). To standardize this, we created a template to consistently summarize and make note of essential data from past expeditions. Importantly, this template serves as a means to catalogue information for future expeditions as well.
|Location||Country and locality of collection and non-collection sites|
|Dates and Duration||Start date and end date; number of days collecting if known|
|Participant(s)||Individuals directly involved in the expedition, including Arboretum and non-Arnold Arboretum staff|
|Objective(s)||Collection-based objectives (e.g., target taxa or location) and non-collection based goals (e.g., cultural or educational)|
|Collections||Number and type (i.e., germplasm or herbarium vouchers) of collections mad|
|Field Notes||Reference to written documents and images created/captured during an expedition|
|Trip Reports||Reference to written summaries, articles, and other trip analysis|
|Endorsement||Documentation of formal institutional support (e.g., funding)|
By organizing expedition information in this manner, in the future we will be able to analyze individual as well as collective expeditions for themes and trends over time(Goal 4). This is particularly powerful as expedition data are integrated into the plant records database.
Lastly, in addition to creating a first-ever internal archive of Arboretum Expeditions, we wanted to provide an online public resource (Goal 5). With respect to the latter, this website contains an up-to-date timeline of some 100 Expeditions where we had sufficient documentation to create basic tabular summaries. For a number of expeditions on the timeline, we have also created separate profile pages that contain short narratives, selected images, and links to additional resources. In time, with the acquisition and analysis of new archival information, additional historical expeditions will be added to the timeline; they will be joined by all new expeditions conducted by and for the Arboretum. And, as Arboretum staff complete additional in-depth expedition reviews, new expedition profiles will be added.
A comprehensive account of the Arboretum's long-term and on-going commitment to plant exploration, Expeditions Unveiled weaves a story of collectors in the field, what they brought back, and the impact they had on botany and horticulture.