The Morton Arboretum’s science and curatorial staff is documenting and managing the conservation value of four of its highest priority collections: oak, crabapple, elm, and linden. These four collections are accredited by the Plant Collections Network and reflect key priorities articulated in the organization’s mission.
The project focuses on five criteria central to the Arboretum’s mission: phylogenetic, environmental, genetic diversity, horticultural diversity, and endangerment status. These criteria are partly overlapping but sometimes in conflict. Until this project provided an analysis it was not clear how to balance the different goals. The team is using data-driven methodologies to quantify the conservation value of the four collections, which contain 2,281 trees. This data will be used to update management, curatorial, and collection plans to sustain and strengthen that value for the future.
The purpose of quantifying conservation value in this manner is to make it easier for researchers and the public to access, study, and learn from the Arboretum’s collections. By using several channels to showcase the results of this project (including a partnership with Botanic Gardens Conservation International), researchers and other stakeholders will benefit from the work, including staff at botanic gardens and seed banks around the world.