Brazilian herbaria: an overview


Acta Bot. Bras.




ABSTRACT Herbaria represent irreplaceable repositories of biodiversity and are used to answer questions about conservation, ecology, systematics, and other sciences. In this sense, we characterize the infrastructure, human resources, and idiosyncrasies of Brazilian herbaria. To achieve this goal, curators were sent a structured and standardized questionnaire to gather information about herbaria. The Brazilian Herbaria Network listed 216 active herbaria in the year 2018, of which 139 answered the questionnaire. These herbaria hold 6,741,469 samples in their collections and more than 39,000 type samples. Most herbaria are in federal universities (40.28 %). Only 24 % of the curators considered that their herbarium is valued by their institutions and 52 % indicated inadequate storage areas. Only nine collections have smoke sensors. Our analysis showed that if an herbarium has an institutional policy the curator is 78 % more likely to consider its herbarium valued. Therefore, it is important for all herbaria to institute their policy. These numbers reflect the difficulty in maintaining herbaria, in many cases cared for only by its curator without institutional recognition and support. Despite recent losses in Brazilian natural history collections, herbaria are still threatened by a lack of basic infrastructure.

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