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In 1867, the State Cabinet, an extensive collection of specimens representing the natural history of Massachusetts, was transferred from the State House in Boston, MA, to the new Massachusetts Agricultural College in Amherst (now the University of Massachusetts). The botanical portion of the State Cabinet has remained intact, and relatively unknown, for the last 148 years at the University of Massachusetts Herbarium. Over the course of two years we completely curated the collection, performed restoration work, and researched the history of the collectors associated with the State Cabinet with a goal of making the collection available online. We were able to assign collectors and collection dates to 84% of the collections that were missing this information. The primary collectors, Charles Jarvis (1800–1826), Edward Jarvis (1803–1884), and Henry Little (1802–1826), were a group of Harvard-educated physicians whose botanical interests were probably inspired by the instruction they received in natural history at Harvard University. The State Cabinet consists of 1509 sheets and includes 905 taxa, an increase from the original, sometimes incomplete identifications based on the Linnaean System. Most of the plants in the collection are from the greater Boston, MA, area, particularly Concord, MA. The Jarvis collection includes the earliest recorded specimens from Concord, MA, and the Little collection includes a few early specimens from the White Mountains as well as specimens cited in the second edition of Bigelow’s Florula Bostoniensis published in 1824. The State Cabinet provides a window into early 19th century botany in New England.
The bryoflora of Martha’s Vineyard and Nomans Land has received little organized study. However, these islands of 100 mi2 and 1 mi2, respectively, seven miles south of Cape Cod, are of considerable bryological interest. They are part of the Atlantic Coastal Plain and are located near the northern, largely submerged end of this physiographic province, which extends southward along the entire eastern coast of the United States. Late Pleistocene glaciers reached as far south as the Vineyard area, leaving behind massive deposits of terminal moraine and associated outwash that remained above sea level as islands when the sea transgressed landward at end of the Ice Age. The maritime climate of Martha’s Vineyard and Nomans Land is characterized by moderate temperatures throughout the year, and the islands lack large seasonal temperature variation typical of more continental regions. Thus, on the basis of these and other circumstances the bryoflora of the Vineyard and Nomans Land was expected to consist of an interesting mixture of southern and northern species, some of which potentially are at their range limits. Four visits to Martha’s Vineyard and one visit to Nomans Land resulted in 480 collections documenting 168 taxa (1 hornwort, 43 liverworts, and 124 mosses). Of these, 15 (11 1iverworts, and four mosses) are new records for Massachusetts. A list of the taxa found and brief descriptions of collecting sites are presented in two appendices.
The lichens of Prince Edward Island (PEI) are well known to have been inadequately sampled and not well understood. In this study, 19 biologically diverse forest remnants and other potentially rich localities were explored for their lichen vegetation, and 118 new county records and 71 species new for the province were discovered. Together with previously studied sites, 38 localities in total have now been surveyed. A new checklist based on these surveys was prepared for all the lichens of the island. In addition, conservation status (S-ranks) is proposed for 153 species of the 326 species in 118 genera now known for the province. Four species received a rank of S1 (critically imperiled): Anaptychia crinalis, Megaspora verrucosa, Pannaria lurida, and Sclerophora amabilis; and six species received a rank of S2 (imperiled): Acrocordia cavata, Bryoria salazinica, Heterodermia speciosa, Menegazzia terebrata, Pannaria rubiginosa, and Ramalina thrausta. The importance of baseline data for future conservation planning, pollution monitoring, and climate change studies is emphasized.
The consequences of initial variability in reproductive effort on later pollination and fruit development have frequently been investigated with flower removal experiments. Often, plants produce many fewer fruits than flowers, so flower removal might not be expected to alter subsequent growth or development patterns all that much. Yet, many studies have demonstrated such changes even for species with low average fruit set, which begs for an explanation. Many (at least seven, by our count) such explanations have been reported in the literature, but experimental support for most is limited. In summer 2014, we conducted a field experiment on a lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) farm in Maine. In this experiment, we coupled flower removal with three other treatments, each designed to assess the validity of one of three often-cited hypotheses invoked to explain why growth and development changes occur following flower removal: 1) “Short-term nutrient shortages;” 2) “spatiotemporal limitations;” and 3) “the compound interest effect.” The three respective treatments—foliar nitrogen fertilization, positionally biased flower removal, and defoliation—were designed to either intensify or weaken the apparent effects of flower removal if the corresponding hypothesis had merit. As in a 2013 preliminary experiment, flower removal elicited several statistically significant growth and development changes in blueberry, including increases in final leaf area, ripe fruit weight, fruit ripening rate, and relative fruit production. The additional treatments also elicited several significant plant responses, though not always with concomitant flower removal effects as well. For example, fertilization generally increased fruit cluster mass by harvest, but flower removal itself had no such effect on cluster mass. Most observed interactive effects between flower removal and the additional treatments either ran counter to expectations, were limited in scope, or couldn't be unambiguously interpreted. For at least a few observed changes, none of the additional treatments significantly altered the effects of flower removal. We conclude that current hypotheses for the mechanistic basis for changes induced by flower removal are inadequate, at least for blueberry, a species with frequently low fruit set even when managed commercially. However, strong intellectual and economic imperatives exist to encourage further investigation into this open question.
Plants grown in horticulture or occurring as adventives outside their native range can provide insight into species’ fundamental niche requirements that might not be evident from the native range, or realized niche, alone. Such occurrences can also identify conditions that support individual survival, but do not currently sustain positive population growth (i.e., a species’ ‘tolerance niche’). Further, in the context of rapid climate change, horticultural and adventive occurrences beyond current range edges might circumvent natural dispersal limitations and facilitate species range shifts. To explore these concepts in the field, we investigated the history and structure of five newly discovered populations of naturalized Magnolia tripetala near horticultural sites in western Massachusetts, USA. This tree species is native to the southeastern US, but has been grown horticulturally in the Northeast since the 1800s. However, naturalized populations had not been well documented in the region previously, raising the possibility that the species’ escape has been triggered by recent climate change. With tree coring and life stage surveys, we asked whether the naturalized populations exhibited synchronous patterns of establishment and expansion, suggestive of climatic release and a shift from tolerance niche to fundamental niche conditions in the region. Across the five sites, we documented 660 individuals, with populations ranging in size from 46 to 3