I have been volunteering at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) for a year and half.  In that time, I’ve moved from imaging specimens to inputting label information to learning to georeference.  The latter is definitely a work in progress.  While the other two jobs required becoming familiar with certain processes that could be learned after a session or two, georeferencing is much more complex.  It means coming up with a coordinate for the probable place of collection of a specimen, and most importantly, calculating an area around that point to indicate the margin of error involved.  If, for example, the label says it was collected in Malverne, NY, the small town where I live, then the plant had to be collected within a circle with a radius of half a mile, since Malverne is about one-mile square.  If however the specimen was collected in “New York City,” then that circle is much bigger.  Before hand-held GPS devices that give the latitude and longitude for the exact spot the plant was collected, label information always contains some degree of uncertainty, and there is a way to calculate it.  But before using the calculator, you have to interpret the locality information on the label, which is not always straightforward.


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