Monday, March 25, 2013

Matanuska Experiment Farm donation aids museum herbarium

UA Museum Herbarium curator Steffi Ickert-Bond and collection manager Jordan Metzgar examine grass specimens from Palmer. (Photograph by Theresa Bakker, UA Museum)

A recent donation to the University of Alaska Museum from the Palmer Center for Sustainable Living, Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station will give researchers a better understanding of the plants that grow along Interior Alaska's transportation corridors.

More than 8,000 mounted specimens were transferred to the University of Alaska Museum Herbarium from the Center for Sustainable Living and the Matanuska Experiment Farm, both components of the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences and the AFES at Palmer. The faculty and staff accumulated this collection over many years; it provides a broad representation of Alaska's flora, with geographic emphasis on the railbelt and the Dalton Highway corridor.

Herbarium Curator Steffi Ickert-Bond says it's a fantastic addition to the museum's collections.

"These plants haven't been seen by outside researchers for decades. Some of them are the original specimens that these new species are based on. We are eager to digitize them so we can make them available to researchers all over the world for further examination and perhaps loan."

The taxonomic emphasis is on species that have some intersection with agriculture, and is especially strong in grasses because of the research interests of long-time curator of the AES Herbarium and retired agronomy professor William W. Mitchell.

The transfer of specimens from Palmer to Fairbanks was generously supported by funds from the UAF Provost's office, the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Dean’s office as well as funds from the UA Museum Herbarium.

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