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Renner, Susanne S. and Rockinger, Alexander (2016): Is plant collecting in Germany coming to an end? In: Willdenowia, Vol. 46, No. 1: pp. 93-97

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We analysed plant collecting in Germany between 1826 and 2014 by counting specimens of common, rare, and invasive species deposited in the herbaria of Munich during that period. Plant collecting increased in the late 1940s and continued until the mid-1980s, but has since declined to levels similar to 1900. In spite of the decline in collecting, the number of specimens of invasive species has strongly increased. The only other attempt to analyse botanical collecting in a large European region, an analysis of botanical recording in the British Isles 1836 to 1988, did not find a decline by the mid-1980s. For the United States, an analysis of collecting between the 1890s and 1999 found that it peaked in the 1930s. Museum time-series (representing the same species collected at different times) have been integral to identifying temporal responses to environmental change, for example, changed flowering times in response to an earlier onset of spring and the change of a region's floristic composition. A possible way to combat the likely loss of time-series in European herbaria is for collection personal to engage with biology teachers at high schools and universities to encourage the collecting of local plants as part of courses in the life sciences.

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