What do the Red Panda, the Mangrove Hummingbird, and the Wild Almond have in common? Sadly, they are all species which have been categorized as “Endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Over the past 50 years, this organization has served to identify and champion the world's most imperiled creatures. Faced with such threats as deforestation, climate change, and sea-level rise, a significant proportion of the world's plant species are commonly believed to be in serious decline and possibly headed toward extinction. For government officials, non-governmental organizations, and anyone working to preserve biodiversity, knowing which are most at risk is a critical piece of information, but the conservation status of only 5% of the world's plant species has been determined.
To speed up the process of identifying threatened and endangered plants, New York Botanical Garden scientists have developed a streamlined method for evaluating conservation status, using information from plant research collections and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. In only the past 5 years, NYBG researchers have sorted through tens of thousands of species in the Caribbean biodiversity hotspot. So far we’ve identified over 3,000 plant species as vulnerable to decline or lacking sufficient data to analyse. Now more than ever, we need the help of citizen scientists to uncover additional collections of these high-risk species preserved in the NYBG herbarium archives. Focus your skills on transcribing scientific specimens, and join us in the fight to protect Caribbean biodiversity!