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When xylarium and herbarium meet: linking Tervuren xylarium wood samples with their herbarium specimens at Meise Botanic Garden

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The current data paper aims to interlink the African plant collections of the Meise Botanic Garden Herbarium (BR) and the Royal Museum for Central Africa Xylarium (Tw). Complementing both collections strengthens the reference value of each institutional collection, as more complete metadata are made available and it enables increased quality control for the identification of wood specimens. Furthermore, the renewed connection enables the linking of available wood trait data with data on phenology, leaf morphology or even molecular information for many tree species, allowing assessments of performance of individual trees. In addition to studies at the interspecific level, comparisons at the intraspecific level become possible, which could lead to important new insights into resilience to and impact of global change, as well as biodiversity conservation or forest management of Central African forest ecosystems.

New information
By interlinking the Tervuren Xylarium Wood database with the recently digitised herbarium of Meise Botanic Garden, we were able to establish a link between 6,621 xylarium and 9,641 herbarium records for 6,953 plant specimens. Both institutional databases were complemented with reliable specimen metadata. The Tervuren xylarium now profits from taxonomic revisions made by botanists at Meise Botanic Garden and a list of phenotypical features for woody African species can be extended with wood anatomical descriptors. New metadata from the Tw xylarium records were used to add the country of collection to 50 linked BR herbarium specimens for which this information was missing. Furthermore, metadata available from the labels on digitised BR herbarium specimens was used to update Tw xylarium records with the date of collection (817 records), collection locality (698 records), coordinates (482 records) and altitude (817 records). In conclusion, we created a reference database with reliable botanic identities which can be used in a range of studies, such as modelling analyses, community assessments or trait analyses, all framed in a spatiotemporal context. Furthermore, the linked collections hold historical reference data and specimens that can be studied in the context of global changes.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere62329
JournalBiodiversity Data Journal
Pages (from-to)e62329
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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