Sep 20 2019
Changing climate means changing landscapes. Herbarium specimens document what plants are growing in a given landscape and how that changes over time. As temperatures get warmer, the range of where a plant occurs can move. A landscape may not have the same plants growing there now as it did 100 years ago due to climate change and other human impacts on the environment. Herbarium specimens document where a species is moving to, that it can survive further north than it used to, or higher in elevation than it used to.
One example of this is Utricularia inflata, an aquatic plant found in ponds and waterways along the east coast. This is an interesting plant for many reasons, including that it is carnivorous! For many years this native species existed from Florida up to Delaware¹. The past 20-30 years has seen a dramatic movement of the species further north. It is now found in northern New York², and has been studied in ponds in the Adirondak Mountains³.