Place Category: National Park
The cornerstone of botanical research for the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research is the Australian National Herbarium which houses a collection of 1.3 million plant specimens, documenting the diversity of the Australian flora. With specimens dating back to Captain Cook’s 1770 expedition, the Herbarium’s comprehensive collections underpin the reliable identification of plants originating from field studies and the extraction of ecological data. The Herbarium houses specialist collections of world importance, including:
. the world’s most comprehensive eucalypts collection;
. an extensive collection of the flora of northern Australia and New Guinea;
. Australia’s largest collection of mosses, lichens and liverworts;
. a specialist tropical rain forest collection housed in north Queensland.
The Australian National Herbarium is a valuable source of data for mapping past and present vegetation distribution, revealing variations due to changes in climate and landuse patterns. Its collections also function as a reference basis for the Flora of Australia project.
The Herbarium provides a range of services, including plant identification, for professional clients and the general public. Public enquiries can be submitted at the Visitor Information Centre on the Botanic Gardens site (Tel: (02) 6250-9450) where there is also a Public Reference Herbarium and small public library.
The Herbarium conducts volunteer programs for members of the public wishing to support the work of the Centre, and a specialised Student Botanical Internship Program for selected tertiary students to provide advanced training.
The Herbarium is located at three sites. The flowering plants collection is held at the herbarium in the grounds of CSIRO adjacent to the Botanic Gardens on Black Mountain. The cryptogam (including ferns) and gymnosperm collections are held in the herbarium adjacent to the Visitor Information Centre within the Australian National Botanic Gardens. A third collection concentrating on rainforest species is held at the Atherton Herbarium Annexe in north Queensland.
Botanical Information Management. The Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research uses its research programs and collections to provide a national focus for botanical data. Text and image data based on the collections have been made available throughout the world via the Internet. The Centre is also responsible for the coordination and maintenance of important national botanical databases developed by the Australian Biological Resources Study, Australian Nature Conservation Agency and CSIRO, including the Australian Plant Name Index, Rare or Threatened Australian Plants (ROTAP), and the Economic Plants of Australia. The Centre is taking a leading role in making complex biological information more accessible by establishing common standards and conventions for botanical databases.