Submitted to: Agricultural Research Service Publication
Publication Type: Government Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: January 31, 1997
Publication Date: N/A
The survival of humanity and the other organisms with which we share this planet depends on a detailed knowledge of numerous plant and animal species, varieties, breeds, cultivars, or strains exploited for food or fiber. This required knowledge depends directly on well-organized collections of reference specimens forming the basis of the information and its storage and retrieval. Many of these collections are, in part, included in the systematics collections of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), U.S. Department of Agriculture. This report describes in detail 11 systematics collections under the care of various ARS laboratories. Information is provided on the purpose, history, location, size, major achievements and associated research programs and other provided services such as loans or identification of specimens. The systematics collections include mostly preserved museum reference specimens. ARS scientists also curate numerous germplasm collections which consist of living propagatable specimens. Computerized databases have been developed for most of the collections. Most of the collections loan specimens for research purposes and are essential resources or working tools for all research on a group of organisms inside and outside ARS. Accordingly, maintenance of the Collections must be considered a major ARS function as the ARS mission and other similar agricultural research worldwide would not be possible without these treasurehouses of knowledge of living things.