Mounting Priorities

effective December 12, 1990
Return to top These guidelines are based on certain assumptions:
  • that mounting resources are finite and fixed, and currently result in approximately 35-40 thousand specimens mounted each year,
  • that algae, bryophytes and lichens are processed primarily by research assistants in those areas and are not covered by these guidelines (although contract funds are provided by the HSU budget to assist with processing in these groups),
  • that specialists' groups constitute approximately 50% of the mounting totals over the course of one year.

The primary emphasis of the mounting review is to consider all newly acquired specimens. When additional material is required for mounting, then the backlog will be canvassed for suitable specimens. An exception to this tenet is neotropical NY and MO collections. It may be preferable to select other neotropical NY and MO collections from the backlog which have not had specialist groups and types removed. In this way, more material of a higher priority is processed into the herbarium.

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There are three priority levels:

1. Specialist material, recently purchased specimens and field collections by current Departmental staff

2. Tropical collections

3. North America, Europe, temperate areas of Asia, Africa, South America and Australia

Priority level 1:

All specialist material is defined as specimens which are considered to be a part of a particular curator's current taxonomic focus. This may be an entire family, part of a family, or individual genera. These taxonomic groups are listed in Appendix A. Geographic specialties will be considered on a special case basis only.

All recently purchased collections are given a priority level 1 status on the assumption that collections worth spending money for are worth processing immediately. This category does not include purchases that have been part of the backlog for more than two years.

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All recent field collections by Department staff will also receive priority level 1 status. Every incoming field collection will be assigned an OR number and delivered to the collector for processing and labelling. Once the processing is completed and the number of specimens to be mounted is known, the collection will be fed into the mounting queue over a period of time. The exact amount of time will depend on the number of specimens and current mounting load. However, every effort will be made to introduce field collections at a consistent rate and finish within the agreed-upon time. This category does not include field collections by former staff members that are currently a part of the backlog.

It is estimated that priority level 1 specimens constitute at least 50% of the material being processed by the Plant Mounting Unit.

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Priority Level 2:

New World tropical collections probably receive greater attention than Old World specimens because of our herbarium strengths and neotropical research emphasis. However, there are other criteria to consider, such as areas of the world where there are active floras being produced; tropical areas where our collections are known to be weak; and tropical collections from institutions with active exchange programs, especially where US has a debit balance.

It is possible that the tropical collections constituting priority level 2 could make up the remaining 50% of the material to be processed by the Plant Mounting Unit.

Priority Level 3:

Specimens from the temperate parts of the world are unfortunately relegated to priority level 3. However, this does not mean that temperate plants will never make it to the mounting room. A decision has been made to insert level 3 material into the mounting queue so that at least 10% of the mounted specimens are from this group.

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Because the North American collections in our herbarium are considered a strength and a valuable resource for botanical systematics, some recently acquired North American material may be selectively included in the mounting queue.

Special Arrangements:

There may be circumstances in which arrangements need to be made to satisfy special needs that may fall outside of these established priorities or that stretch the current limits of the mounting program.

Examples include a staff member turning over material representing a geographic specialty, as opposed to a taxonomic one, staff field collections increase dramatically, or an acquisition needs to be processed immediately in order to conserve the specimens and to improve their stability.

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If the number is small, fewer than 150 specimens, there is normally no problem. Larger collections will require that an agreement be made to feed such collections into the mounting queue over a longer period of time. That period of time must be negotiated in each instance.

Selecting specimens from the backlog:

When there is room in the mounting queue for specimens that are currently in the inventoried backlog, they will be selected using the same mounting priorities established for recently acquired collections.


For more information on collections policies, contact the Collections Manager