Why do we maintain biological collections?

The answer to this is best summed up by Dr. Peter Raven, past Director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, in an address he gave at a Symposium sponsored by Friends of the Jepson Herbarium, University of California Berkeley, 3-5 June 1994.

"Excited by the many new and rapidly growing fields of investigation associated with modern biology, we sometimes forget that it is the actual plants, their ranges and other features, and their status that we need to investigate first.

  • Without the continuous acquisition of such knowledge, so fundamental for everything else;
  • Without the ability to recognize and distinguish the kinds of organisms;
  • Without the careful documentation of what we learn in biological collections,

Nothing else in systematics or evolutionary biology is possible."
-Peter Raven