Friday, July 29, 2016

Botany Collections Procedures - IF

Intro Revision

In today’s world, there are researchers across the nation and the world with various research goals, such as the DNA of a plant, how does it’s structure correlate with it’s geographic location, etc. Unfortunately with everyone being in vastly different parts of the world, it is hard to collaborate with others and share data such as certain plant specimens in an efficient manner since it takes times to send a request to a collection for a certain specimen, the order being approved, and it being sent. Working in the Peabody Museum’s Botany Collection under the supervision of Dr. Patrick Sweeney, I’m tasked in contributing to the lab’s overall goal of digitizing current and future additions to the Botany Collection online. Some tasks that I’ve been doing includes mounting plant specimens onto paper, inputting data to entries in a database online, and cataloguing the plants already in the collection. Interns also collaborate with other East Coast Herbariums, such as the Pringle Herbarium at the University of Vermont, in an effort to making plant specimens between Herbarium Collections accessible in a more efficient and digital manner rather than the complex manner of doing it physically. 

Mounting Specimens
  1. Wear a lab coat, latex gloves, and protective eyewear to prevent any reactions if you come in contact with an undesirable specimens (mandatory for minors)
  2. Prepare your work area! Make sure you grab two paper towels, a jar of water, a paintbrush, multiples strips of bands with different sizes, tweezers, and scissors
  3. Get a long piece of cardboard, preferably greater length than width, and a piece of white paper, paper thicker and less flimsy than construction paper and also about the same size as the cardboard piece, and place the white paper on top of the cardboard
  4. Carefully grab a newspaper with a specimen in it and delicately put it next to the cardboard and white paper stack and open the newspaper
  5. Take the specimen label and cover the back of the label with glue applied using the paintbrush and press this label, glue side down, onto the bottom right hand corner of the white paper
  6. Carefully open the newspaper to examine the specimen and maybe any small bits of pieces that are no longer connected to the main specimen, ie leaves that may have fallen off, fruits pressed and dried, etc
  7. If you find these small bits and pieces, consider putting them into a fragment pack appropriate to the pieces’ size, small or big fragment pack. If not, skip this step. If you find something, then put the fragments into the pack and glue the back of the pack onto the bottom left hand corner of the white paper
  8. The fun part gets to actually mounting the specimen. Carefully pick up the specimen and place it on the white piece of paper
  9. Adjust it so that it is not blocking either the label of fragment packets (if applicable)
  10. Envision where you may be placing bands to pinpoint and constraint the specimens’ axis of movement
  11. Once you’ve done this, cut bands of appropriate length and apply glue to the ends of the band using the paintbrush
  12. Carefully place the band over the desired location and press down on the sides to stick the band onto the paper
  13. Repeat steps 10-12 until you’ve mounted the specimen onto the paper so that the specimen has little to no freedom to move. Remember: too many bands is better than too little
  14. When you’re done mounting, transport the cardboard and specimen on the white paper stack onto another location
  15. Cover the mounted specimen with wax paper and then use some sort of paper weight to keep the wax paper down
  16. Cover this with another piece of cardboard or hard surface that can cover the current stack
  17. Repeat steps 3-16 for the next few specimens waiting to be mounted

Cataloguing Specimens
1. Wear protective gear! Wear a lab coat, latex gloves, and protective eyewear. (Mandatory if you’re a minor)
2. Go into the main collections room
3.Identify the plant family you’ll be cataloguing
4.Once you know the plant family, look for that name in the plant directory. Find the name and you’ll see a number next to it. This number corresponds the cabinet the family can be found
5. If you need to, use the handles on the ends of the cabinet to make room for you to access the cabinet
6. Open the cabinet that has the desired plant family and make sure you find a conspicuous flap with the plant family name on it
7. The folders under the flap in individual shelves belong to the plant family
8. Open surrounding cabinets in order to know whether or not if the plant family extends to other cabinets or not
9. Once you have an idea of how many drawers have the plant family that you want, get a counter
10. Go to the plant family flap, and start with the first folder under it
11. Carefully peek at the bottom right hand corner of the folder and try to make a slow, thumb book flap motion (when you press your thumb on a book corner and quickly let go)
12. Every specimen with a label on the paper is a count so press the counter for every time you see a label. Remember, drawing do not count
13. Repeat steps 11-12 for every folder with the desired plant family until you reach another flap conveying that it’s another plant family. That’s where you stop

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