University of Reading Herbarium (RNG)
Excellence in plant science since 1897

Volunteering

Sarah Ball VolunteeringVolunteering at the Herbarium is a great way to learn about plants and participate in one of the most active University herbaria in the UK. There are opportunities to learn museum databasing, how to prepare and handle herbarium specimens, organise and label collections and check the identity of species.  You can also get involved in interpretive work for public outreach including helping with blogging, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook activities.

If you are interested in seeing what volunteer projects are available, please contact the curator, Dr. Alastair Culham at a.culham@reading.ac.uk.

 

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David M. Moore Patagonian Collection

Background

David Moresby Moore was a British botanist, considered to be an expert on plants from South America and the South Atlantic. His specialty, though, was Patagonia, specifically Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands.[1] In October 1961 Moore took one of his first expeditions to Chile, eventually making his way down to the furthest reaches of Argentina and finally arriving at the remote archipelago of Tierra del Fuego.[2] David M. MooreHe would end up visiting Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands multiple times throughout his career and the local vegetation played a highly instrumental role in his career. Moore wrote The Vascular Flora of the Falkland Islands (1968), the first true flora produced for the region, as well as the Flora of Tierra del Fuego (1983). He also acted as co-editor and contributor of Transecta Botánica de la Patagonia Austral (1985), a publication that had never been attempted before for Southern Patagonia. Moore’s work broadened our knowledge of the Antarctic Floristic Kingdom and created a solid foundation from which additional research of these alpine habitats could be built.

Moore began his teaching career as a lecturer at Leicester University in 1961. In 1968, he moved to University of Reading to the Botany Department under Professor Vernon H. Heywood, where he stayed for the remainder of his career.[3]

RNG houses approximately 6,000 of David M. Moore’s specimens, many of which were collected from Tierra Del Fuego and the Falkland Islands and as a part of Transecta Botánica de la Patagonia Austral. Unfortunately, the majority of them are not currently available online.

Transecta Botánica de la Patagonia Austral

Transecta Botánica de la Patagonia Austral (TBPA) is a unique publication in that it was the first to produce distribution maps of the plant species along the Southern coast of Patagonia at 51° to 52° S latitude. Structured collections of this type rarely exist!

This publication and the work that went into developing it shows strong evidence of the UK, Argentina and Chile working together in the name of science. Many of the specimens collected for the purpose of this publication are housed in RNG.

Digitisation of Moore’s Collection

Earlier this summer, RNG began digitising a portion of Moore’s Patagonian collection, with the goal of Plantago Moorei Rahneventually having all 6,000 + of his specimens available as an online resource. Due to the size of Moore’s collection, Curator Alastair Culham and current MSc Plant Diversity student Lauryn Gilroy, decided to focus specifically on Plantago from Temperate South America, in honour of Plantago moorei Rahn or Moore’s Plantain.

In 1964, during one of his earlier expeditions to the Falkland Islands, Moore collected a flowering, cushion-forming Plantain with densely packed leaves, covered in white hairs.[4] Originally labelled as just “Plantago”, this specimen would not be described as a new species until 1984, when it was aptly named after its collector.[5] The holotype for P. moorei Rahn is held at RNG. Moore’s Plantain is endemic to the Falkland Islands, and despite being well adapted to survive in harsh environments, it is considered to be at the “threshold for Critically Endangered” category by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.[6]

Focusing on Plantago, an additional decision was made to digitise all of the Temperate South American Plantago specimens held in RNG, not just Moore’s. This includes specimens collected for the development of the Transecta Botanica de la Patagonia Austral, some of which Moore is listed as a collector, and newer more recently collected specimens.

Making all of these specimens available online could potentially help produce updated distribution maps to those made in the original Transecta Botanica de la Patagonia Austral or create climate maps which could be used for conservation purposes.

We are currently in the process of making these newly databased and imaged specimens available via the University Enterprise Database. In the meantime, check out images of the specimens here!

Click here to see more images from Moore’s trips to Patagonia throughout his career.

Follow us on our social media channels to get live updates about the project and see specimens from the collection.

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Visit the Culham Research Group blog to learn more about Plantago moorei Rahn.

Click here to learn more about previous work done with David M. Moore’s collections.

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David Moore in Tierra del Fuego

 

References

[1] The Telegraph (2013) Professor David Moore Obituary. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/10260237/Professor-David-Moore.html (Accessed 13/03/18)
[2] Tatham. D., (2006) MOORE, DAVID MORESBY. Dictionary of Falklands Biography. https://www.falklandsbiographies.org/biographies/336 (Accessed 15/03/18)
[3] The Telegraph (2013) Professor David Moore Obituary. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/10260237/Professor-David-Moore.html (Accessed 13/03/18)
[4] Kew Science (2018) Plantago moorei Rahn. Plants of the World Online.   http://powo.science.kew.org/taxon/urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:283224-2 (Accessed 04/08/18)
[5] Culham, Alastair (2017) Plantago moorei Rahn, Holotype at RNG. Culham Research Group http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/crg/plantago-moorei-rahn-holotype-at-rng/ (Accessed 04/08/18)
[6] Upson, R., Clubbe, C.P. & McAdam, J.H. (2012).  Plantago moorei. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T44040A15245513. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2012.RLTS.T44040A15245513.en (Accessed 03/08/18)

 

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Our Team

Herbarium RNG caters to some 50 staff and 500 students in the School of Biological Sciences here at the University. We also have a number of visiting academics who assist in our herbarium.

Please contact our herbarium curator, Alastair Culham, with any herbarium related inquiries.

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News

Check out our social media channels to get the most up to date herbarium news. Links are below!

RNG Herbarium Live Twitter Feed


Reading herbarium has a wide range of specimens of UK plants of local interest. We are looking for suitable applicants for the current call for PhD studentships for those who live in or close to Reading https://t.co/1AYkIQSRCL

Have you compared with authentic specimens in @RNGherb ? https://t.co/Vrdzthtw5A
RNGherb photo
Peter Q D Flood @floodenheim
Niche tweet alert! A couple of lucky strikes yesterday with sedge id using the mighty #vegkey - 1,2 Carex hostiana (v-shaped lf section, scabrid margins, cross-veining), and 3,4 Carex extensa (u-shaped lf section, hollows in lf section,cross-veining) #MScPlDiv #thewayforward https://t.co/OltbxQ3MkR

Volunteers transcribing field notes this afternoon... I think we can infer from the smudged lines on the paper, and the carefully worded notes, that this particular botanist was having a bit of a bad day... ⛽️🌧 https://t.co/FbuvsbUovB RNGherb photo

Thank you @eternalmagpie - I'm hoping Cyclamen will be the start of many genera we will put online. https://t.co/xc4ZP3aTzy
RNGherb photo
Claire Smith @eternalmagpie
Spent yesterday afternoon volunteering at @RNGherb, cataloguing Cyclamen specimens and transcribing field notes, while others mounted specimens and worked on labels. It’s going to be really satisfying to get this collection online and available for research! https://t.co/2mO76YpSE2

 

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