Pat Gensel and Alan Weakley received a 3 year NSF grant (Advanced Digitization of Biological Collections) to digitize parts of the critical fossil collections (all non-seed producing plant fossils) of Pat Gensel, as well as extant fern and lycophyte components of the UNC Herbarium (a unit of the NC Botanical Garden located in Coker Hall). The grant, Digitization TCN: Collaborative Research: The Pteridological Collections Consortium: An integrative approach to pteridophyte diversity over the last 420 million years, is a multi-institutional collaborative, led by U Cal Berkeley, with 8 collaborating institutions (UNC being one) and up to 30 associated institutions, forming the Pteridological Collections Consortium. The project focuses on integrating fossil (deep time) and extant data about ferns and lycophytes that will enable researchers to better address the ecology, biogeography, and evolution (characters and genes) of these plant groups through time, from the Devonian to the present and to develop greater public appreciation of these plants and topics. The images and data will be served in a new portal, representing the first such consortium to integrate fossil and living plant data in one database. The NSF-ADBC grant is the 4th over the last 7 years that the UNC Herbarium (the largest in the southeastern United States) has received. The work facilitates research, collaboration, and conservation by vastly increasing the accessibility to researchers and the public of the mass of data held in herbaria like UNC’s.

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