BOTANICAL EVALUATION OF THE GOAT ISLAND COMPLEX, NIAGARA FALLS, NEW YORK
Living plants were collected in the field and arranged in a standard field press, or, in the case of bryophytes and lichens, in field collecting envelopes. Data pertaining to locality, date of collection, collector and other relevant information was recorded at that time. Plants were identified in the field, in the herbarium before drying, or after desiccation depending on access to technical equipment (microscopes, etc.), degree of difficulty of determination, time available, presence of reference material, and like variables.
Plants were identified and processed into herbarium specimens at the Clinton Herbarium (BUF) of the Buffalo Museum of Science, Buffalo, New York. This institution provided space, the consultation of its curator, access to bibliographic and herbarium reference materials and dissecting equipment, and provided all the archive-quality paper materials used in preparing permanent specimens. The Museum also provided computer facilities. Specimens collected by myself or others on Goat Island in previous years, which had not been identified or processed, were dealt with at this time.
Field collections of vascular plants were transferred to papers, blotters and cardboards for desiccation in the herbarium drying cabinet, allowing one week for this process, and for killing insects and other organisms that may have been included with the collection. Each specimen was then mounted on its own standard size, acid-free paper herbarium sheet using polyethylene glues and/or linen tape, allowing the specimen to be removed for future examination, and a label prepared. A herbarium number was assigned each specimen, and was stamped on the sheet, together with a stamp indicating the specimen data was entered into the database-cataloguing system of the Clinton Herbarium.
Labels were generated using the database computer software (DBASE III Plus (r)) employed by the Clinton Herbarium in cataloguing its own herbarium specimens. This software is one of the standard commercial packages used by many North American herbaria. Available computer hardware used was an IBM PC system with data stored on removable 10-megabyte Iomega Corp. "Bernoulli" cartridges.
Data was entered using the following field structure:
Division (Anthophyta, Bryophyta, Lichenophyta, Pteridophyta, etc.)
Family (Asteraceae, Caprifoliaceae, etc.)
Genus and species (Phascum cuspidatum)
State (New York)
Township (City Niagara Falls)
Locality 1 (Goat Island on the Niagara River, etc.)
Date in Code
Specimen data can be searched on any of these fields or combination of fields.
Labels were made of archival quality acid-free paper, provided by the Museum, and were generated using a commercial macroprocessor (SuperKey (r)), thus customizing the database software to print data entered in the field structure outlined above in a label format. Labels were printed and glued to the corresponding specimen sheet.
Data at this time was entered for analysis into the word-processor files on the investigator's portable microcomputer (a Sharp PC-7000).
Finished herbarium specimens were then alphabetized first by family, then by genus, then by species and filed into the botanical collections in the herbarium's steel Lane cases.
Notices of species listed as rare or extinct from the flora of New York State, but discovered in the study area were routinely sent to Dr. Richard Mitchell, New York State Botanist, Albany, New York, and Dr. Steven Clemants, New York State Heritage Program, DelMar, New York.
All primary specimens were deposited in the Clinton Herbarium, where they form part of that institution's research collections. They may be examined by the interested public by appointment with the Curator of Botany, Dr. Richard Zander, during the Museum's regular operating hours.
Eventually, all computerized specimen data from this study, together with that of specimens in the Clinton Herbarium, will be given 24-hour public access by modem through the Museum's TAXACOM online service.
I would like to acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Richard Zander, Curator of the Clinton Herbarium, Dr. Richard Mitchell, New York State Botanist, Albany and Dr. Charles Sheviak, Curator of the New York State Herbarium in determining or verifying certain botanical specimens. Drs. Zander and Mitchell provided helpful assistance in the field during the course of this study. Dr. Zander also kindly permitted me access to his unidentified, unprocessed bryophyte collections made at the base of Goat Island in the 1970's, and provided valuable computer-related advice.