Herbaria provide long-term data crucial for tracing changes over a long period of time. The vast number of herbaria collections together with increasing digitization and the posibility for sequencing DNA from preserved plant material, make herbaria valuable resources for understanding ecological and evolutionary species responses to main drivers of global change e.g. industrialization causing increased pollution, increasing loss of habitat and changes in land use as well as climate change, and finally global trade and transport resulting in an increasing number of invasive species world‐wide (see also Using herbaria to study global change).
DFG project on the phenology of early flowering forest understory plants
The project 'Tracking long-term phenology and genetic diversity changes in the Biodiversity Exploratories: a comparison of contemporary plants and historical specimen' within the DFG Priority Programme 1374 "Biodiversity Exploratories" combines field observations with mining of natural history collections to investigate how land use and climate change affect the flowering phenology of forest understory plants and whether there are long-term changes since the industrial revolution. In collaboration with Prof. Dr. Hernán Burbano, now at University College London, the evolution and genetic diversity of these forest plants is examined by contrasting DNA sequences of plant specimens.
Digitization of herbarium specimens
The Herbarium Tubingense has invested in new digitization technology to make our archival plant collections accessible for the use of broad-scale scientific research. Sponsored by the Mellon Foundation more than 8800 dried plants from the African region stored in the herbarium Tubingense have already been scanned. The images and records can be accessed via the largest international database JSTOR – Global plants. Herbarium Tubingense is also a co-partner of the digital database 'Virtuelles Herbarium Deutschland' that includes more than 15 Million scanned high resolution images and associated record information on dried plant specimens from 14 herbaria in Germany. More than 2000 seeds from one of our many special collections, the Karl Hummel collection, have been digitized. The images can be accessed via the academic library website of Tuebingen University (Pharmakognostische Sammlung Hummel).
MSCA funded project on invasive Japanese knotweed
This project aims to understand the invasion success of Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica, R. sachalinensis and R. x bohemica, in the Polygonaceae family). We are using herbarium specimens to reconstruct the colonization history of Japanese knotweed in Europe and North America and test for genetic changes associated with its invasion.