Small Collections Grant

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Rescuing and Preserving Historical Ecuadorian Botanical Collections

Alina Freire-Fierro


Process backlog, Other

Cost: $



Universidad Tecnica de Cotopaxi


Main objective
To preserve a historical collection of high scientific quality and make a reference botanical collection in Central Ecuador for basic and applied botanical research and training.

Secondary objectives
Increase UTCEC’s collection by 40% with botanical specimens from a broad Ecuadorian geographical range with specimens from a backlog collection received from David Neill , a well known USA botanist residing in Ecuador since the 1980s..
2. Train undergraduate students on botanical and nomenclatural research


We will select and train four undergraduate students from Universidad Técnica de Cotopaxi to work on the project part-time. Since by Ecuadorian law, undergraduate students are required to work 400 hours on unpaid internships, we will select students who have done especially well in Botany, Flora of Ecuador and/or Plant Systematics.

These students will learn how to process scientific collections starting. with basics on collection management and continuing with the various steps to process the backlog: mounting, sewing, linen-stripping, freezing, numenclatural curation, databasing and filing.

For updating the botanical families to reflect the APG classification, we will train the students in using botanical resources such as the Shenzhen Code, and botanical databases such as Tropicos, GBIF, Bioweb, etc.

For the students to learn about plant morphology, and species characteristics using Neill’s collections, we will train them to effectively use the stereoscope and the. camera lucida.

With this knowledge, the students will mount, nomenclaturally curate, digitize and file the backlog of 1000 specimens from David Neill.

Since it is almost impossible to obtain the supplies needed for the project in Ecuador, we would purchase them online in the USA. The purchased items could be shipped to Harvard University, where Michael Huben, a colleague who lives in Ecuador could pick it up and bring it to Ecuador. He is a research associate at that university.


This project will be executed in six months detailed below:
Month One, Weeks 1-2: Selection of students
Month One, Weeks 1-4: Purchase and import of mounting materials from the USA
Month One, Weeks 3-4: Training: Management of scientific collections
Month Two, Weeks 1-2: Plant species recognition/illustration and name verification of botanical specimens with the use of stereoscope/microscope
Month Two, Weeks 3-4 through Months 3-4: Mounting and curation of specimens
Month Four, Week 4 through Month Five, Weeks 1-4: Nomenclatural curation through the use of botanical resources like the Shenzhen Code, and botanical databases like Tropicos, GBIF, etc
Month Five, Week 4 and Month Six, Weeks 1-2: Databasing and Filing of the mounted and curated specimens on the proper families following the APG system
Month Six, Weeks 3-4: Write up of the final report

Referee 1:

Katya Romoleroux

Referee 2:

Mercedes Asanza

Scoring Rubric

Your name:

Collection Improvement/Maintenance


1.  Contribution to the generation of digital herbarium data (digitization: data entry, setting up database structure, purchasing equipment).

2.  Contribution to enhancing our understanding of the flora by making new herbarium specimens available (processing of backlog).

3.  Contribution to enhancing our understanding of the flora by making new herbarium specimens available (shipping endangered collection to another herbarium).

4. Contribution towards improving conservation status of specimens in herbarium (better folders, protecting covers, mounting paper, labeling, etc.).

This proposal scores:


IAPT community building


5.  Herbarium's potential for success.

6.  Perceived need, extent to which the project will benefit from IAPT funding.
7. Sharing specimens with other herbaria.

This proposal scores:


Broader Impacts

8. The project will yield durable benefits (specimens, digitized metadata, databases, websites).

9. The proposed project involves outreach/mentoring and broad dissemination.

This proposal scores:


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