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Climate Change and Biosphere Response: Unlocking the Collections Vault

Kenneth G. Johnson, Stephen J. Brooks, Phillip B. Fenberg, Adrian G. Glover, Karen E. James, Adrian M. Lister, Ellinor Michel, Mark Spencer, Jonathan A. Todd, Eugenia Valsami-Jones, Jeremy R. Young and John R. Stewart
BioScience
Vol. 61, No. 2 (February 2011), pp. 147-153
DOI: 10.1525/bio.2011.61.2.10
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/bio.2011.61.2.10
Page Count: 7
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Climate Change and Biosphere Response: Unlocking the Collections Vault
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Abstract

Natural history collections (NHCs) are an important source of the long-term data needed to understand how biota respond to ongoing anthropogenic climate change. These include taxon occurrence data for ecological modeling, as well as information that can be used to reconstruct mechanisms through which biota respond to changing climates. The full potential of NHCs for climate change research cannot be fully realized until high-quality data sets are conveniently accessible for research, but this requires that higher priority be placed on digitizing the holdings most useful for climate change research (e.g., whole-biota studies, time series, records of intensively sampled common taxa). Natural history collections must not neglect the proliferation of new information from efforts to understand how present-day ecosystems are responding to environmental change. These new directions require a strategic realignment for many NHC holders to complement their existing focus on taxonomy and systematics. To set these new priorities, we need strong partnerships between NHC holders and global change biologists.

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