Submitted to: Iowa Academy of Science Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/21/2000
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The earliest known collection of vascular plants in the Ames area was made in 1858. The rate of collecting surged once the Herbarium was founded in 1870, and today the Ada Hayden Herbarium holds more than 1400 Ames specimens that were collected before 1900. Active collecting was maintained during the early decades of the twentieth century, but decreased in the 1930's - '40's, despite the ongoing activity of several researchers. New collections since 1950, until initiation of the current survey, were sporadic, with barely 15% of the total number of specimens from Ames collected from 1950 to 1990. Our analysis highlights the shifts in focus that have contributed to the decline in local collecting in recent decades, including changing floristic and taxonomic interests, with a decreased emphasis on local flora, and a general shift from field- to laboratory-oriented studies. Using specimens to compare current and historic floras has several constraints, including the assumption that all specimens previously collected in Ames are extant in the Herbarium. Also, some labels ar illegible, and others provide scant information or cite localities that we have been unable to relocate. However, the historical data and perspective gleaned from our survey for Ames collections provide a reasonable basis for comparing modern and past floras.