Natural environments are being subjected to rapid anthropogenic changes, including shifts in land use, invasive species, and climate change. By collecting seeds from plants now and storing them for the next 50+ years, we can facilitate research that tests the effects of these anthropogenic changes on plant populations across the country. For example, researchers twenty or thirty years from now could recollect seeds of the same species from the same locations, and compare those plants to plants grown from the seeds in the Project Baseline seedbank to test for genetic, physiological, or ecological changes. This is a powerful tool that is providing baseline data on the current state of plant species in our country.
How will this data be used?
Data on plant locations will be used to help us collect seeds across a large geographic gradient for inclusion in the Project Baseline seedbank.
How Can You Participate?
Volunteers would record large populations of Impatiens capensis (or other species, maybe) while traveling along the Mississippi River. Populations should be 1000+ plants, preferably, to facilitate our collections. Data collection would likely include a detailed description of the location, GPS coordinates, photos and information about the population size, and any known information about land ownership. If people are particularly interested in the project, they could also volunteer to help collect seeds, but it is a time-consuming and detailed process (seeds are collected by maternal plant, from up to 200 plants per population, sometimes keeping different fruit types separate).