Since its inception in 1987, the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) has been a repository for orphaned herbaria—including the collections from Southern Methodist University, Vanderbilt University, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, and Dartmouth College—and today reports more than one million specimens. Accompanying each acquisition is an approximation for the number of specimens, geographic concentration, and the legacy of many important botanists, together forming a rich but imprecise patchwork. The lack of an accurate account of the collections has hindered the prioritization of research, digitization, and curatorial projects and has limited the exposure of BRIT’s specimens for scientific research. To address these issues, in 2015 BRIT conducted an inventory of its herbarium, recording every species name, a sheet count for each species, and the geographic region of each collection. Over the course of 11 months, 136 volunteers, interns, and BRIT staff members spent 241 person-days inventorying the collection using purpose-built, open-source software called BRIT Rapid Inventory of Specimen Collections (BRISC; source available at https://github.com/jbest/brisc). The results of the inventory are published here to allow others to gain insight into the taxonomic and geographic scope of the collection.
The inventory of the BRIT herbarium (BRIT, SMU, and VDB) focused on the material filed out into the general collection as of February 2015, and did not include some smaller special collections or unmounted, unfiled specimens. Some collections which have already been databased (e.g., Philippine Plant Inventory collections) were not included in the inventory.
Total sheets inventoried – 882,815
Uninventoried estimate – 144,289
Total BRIT holdings (est.) – 1,027,104
Please read the details below to better understand the scope and limitations of the datasets provided here.
Inventory reports, Microsoft Excel format – BRIT_inventory_v1.0.xlsx(2.1 MB)
Full inventory export, CSV format (zipped) – BRIT_inventory_full_v1.0.zip (4 MB)
The majority of the taxon names were generously provided by Tropicos (Tropicos.org, Missouri Botanical Garden, 12 Feb 2015, www.tropicos.org). Additional names were recorded verbatim as presented on the specimen sheet. This occasionally introduced invalid or misspelled taxa. The inventory software interface presented undetermined taxa names in the selection lists by prepending “AAA” to the taxon name to make that name appear at the top of the list. The full taxon name is the sequence “AAA – ” followed by the abbreviated taxon rank, then “indet” (e.g., “AAA – Gen. indet”).
The following reports were generated from the inventory dataset and are provided in the Excel spreadsheet (available above):
Regions – BRIT, SMU, and VDB specimens are organized into one of 16 folder types which represent the region the specimens came from.
Families – The inventory recorded 387 families in the collection.
Genera – The inventory recorded 7,754 genera in the collection.
Species – The inventory recorded 66,135 species in the collection.
Undetermined – Counts of undetermined taxa (at any rank) grouped by family.
Uninventoried – Collections that were not included in the inventory with estimated counts.
- The software used for the inventory (BRIT Rapid Inventory of Specimen Collections – BRISC) is available under an open-source license at https://github.com/jbest/brisc.
- The data from previously databased collections will be incorporated into the inventory dataset.
- The full dataset will be published, allowing for more flexible querying of the data.
- Uninventoried collections will be inventoried and incorporated into the dataset.
For questions about the database or to report data errors, please contact Jason Best – firstname.lastname@example.org
For any other issues, please contact the BRIT Herbarium – email@example.com