The University of Reading Herbarium provides an invaluable teaching and research resource for those studying in the , especially those following the Bioenvironmental stream of the .
The BSc in Botany has now been incorporated into the BSc in Biological Sciences and there remains a regular use of the herbarium for project research. In recent years the emphasis has been on the use of specimens to study plant phenology but this year one project has been to rebuild and update the Herbarium website.
A number of these students use the Herbarium as part of their final year project, under supervision from their project tutor. Some examples of how the Herbarium is being actively used in Undergraduate research are shown below.
"Investigating changes in lichen diversity with distance from major roads across South London"
by Edwin Malins.
"For my undergraduate project investigating lichen abundance and diversity with increasing distance from major roads in London, I found the lichen section of the herbarium a useful resource to correctly identify the species that I found."
"The availability of a variety of samples of each species makes this much easier due to the variation that can occur between individual lichens. Although some of the older specimens have faded, they still retain distinctive physical characteristics which provide a means for comparison that diagrams and photographs never can."
"The samples that I collected will also be stored in the herbarium, perhaps providing an insight into the return of lichens to urban areas for anyone doing research in this area in the future."
"The availability of resources and flowering phenology on Whiteknights campus"
by Billy Lumley.
"My project is aiming to see what resources are available to give an indication of past flowering phenology specifically on Whiteknights campus."
"Herbarium RNG provides a significant source of past phenological data (in terms of date of collection and observable reproductive stage of specimens), covering both a large variety of species present on campus and a significant time period. By using this data in combination with current observational studies and other potential sources such as fix-dated photographs we have the potential to map the past reactions of flowering phenology to climate change."
"What can herbarium data tell us about flowering phenology in the Grass family?"
by Loris Kefala.
"In the herbarium I look at specimens of the family Poaceae from the British Isles. I identify their phenology by observing each specimen under the microscope as their anthers and stigmas are small and hard to observe with the naked eye."
"I record the collection information from each specimen in an Excel spreadsheet (species name, location of collection, date of collection, habitat characteristics and if flowering: flowering stage according to the BBCH system)."
"I also take pictures of some of the specimens."