Gothenburg Observes Biodiversity Day: Herbarium GB Welcomes Visitors, Researchers Share Factual Stories from Fieldwork in the World

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ATHENA Ethical MEDIA

Herbarium GB is one of the prized herbariums in the world with a million dried plants and some date to 1700s. The collections offer window to the world of biodiversity and knowledge ‘to our understanding of life on earth’ especially at time when climate change is threatening societies in the world with unimaginable consequences.

On the occasion of ‘Biodiversity Day, observed on May 22, the Herbarium GB located at the Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Gothenburg, welcomed the visitors with guided tours of its collections. More than a dozen visitors took the opportunity to see the collections. Ellen Larsson at the Herbarium GB informed about the collections, the logistics of sharing the specimens with other researchers in the world and digitalisation of taxonomical information about the dried plants among others. There is also a piece of wood of General Sherman or Sequoia Tree. According to Urban Nordenhäll, research assistant, the wood is more than three thousand years old and comes from northern California.

A piece of General Sherman or Sequoia Tree

Natural History Museum and Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre (GGBC) organised an event that saw the recollection of fieldwork stories from researchers whose research is around the biodiversity, both above the land and below the land.

WORLD BIODIVERSITY DAY, 22 MAY: Tales from the field

‘Life below Water’ and ‘Life on Land’ are two of the 17 Sustainable Developmental Goals adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.

Christine Bacon, Assistant Professor, University of Gothenburg, recounted how she spent four days in a canoe with battering rain in the Amazon when she had to reach Cocha Cashu Biological Station located at Manú National Park in Peru. She researched on palms and palm diversity. The botanist is working on the systematics and evolution of palms.

Magnus Gelang, a scholar in vertebrate zoology, recollected how he landed up in a remote Chinese police station and ended up partying with them when he went there in search of an endangered bird species. He studies birds and bats focussing on the biodiversity of the Old World. How can a common person sustain or contribute to the biodiversity at a micro-level in the society? He said, if one has a garden, to leave a patch of it untended, is one way.

Harith Farooq, a PhD student at Gothenburg University, classified fieldwork researchers (scientists) into three types: mad, over-planned and tough wannabes, and how one fits where. He is working with conservation and biogeography of amphibians and reptiles in Mozambique. He also shared a story of spork (two-in-one: spoon and fork) in fieldwork!

Kennet Lundin narrated his scuba-diving (deep-sea diving) times to find the ‘blue dragon ‘in Indonesia. He studies biodiversity of marine invertebrates (nudibranchs: nudibranch is a shell-less marine snail with branched respiratory appendages). His fieldwork took as far as to the Andes to the Arizona desert.

Maria Fernanda Torres Jimenez is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Gothenburg. Her research uses DNA to understand how new species arise. In search of new species, she went to Colombia and landed in a spot that divides the Amazon and the Andes and where guerillas called the shots. She did manage to collect the plant that was the epicentre of her doctoral research.

Magnus Lidén’s research revolves around systematic botany. His work takes him to Asia: Iran, India and China. He reminisced on one of his excursions to remote Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh bordering with China and Myanmar (Burma), and what hardships he went through (I almost died) but managed to discover two new plant species. He also ‘discovered 150 new flowering plants’. He is a researcher at the Department of Organismal Biology at Uppsala University.

Allison Perrigo, the Director of Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre, recalled one of her field trips to Central Asia, and how she had to experience a driver of a military jeep who can do anything but driving. She introduced the session of WORLD BIODIVERSITY DAY titled ‘TALES FROM THE FIELD’.

Renée Göthberg, Program and Exhibition Manager, Gothenburg Natural History Museum, said the need to bring the real stories of fieldworkers into the public domain was to listen from their experiences: who go to extreme lengths to gather the evidences for their research and biodiversity.

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