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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Winter 2006

URLs in this document have been updated. Links enclosed in {curly brackets} have been changed. If a replacement link was located, the new URL was added and the link is active; if a new site could not be identified, the broken link was removed.

[Refereed article]

Science and Technology Sources on the Internet

Plant Conservation Resources on the Internet

Danielle Carlock
Reference and Instruction Librarian
Arizona State University at the Polytechnic Campus
Mesa, Arizona

Audience, Scope and Methodology
Indexes and Databases
Botanical Gardens
Conservation Organizations and Research Institutes
Mailing Lists/Discussion groups
Native Plant Societies
NGOs, Governmental, and Quasi-Governmental Entities Involved in Plant Conservation
Professional Societies


The field of plant conservation includes the study of plant decline and its causes, and techniques to conserve rare and endangered plants. Plant conservation can be considered a part of conservation biology, a relatively young field that emphasizes the conservation of biodiversity and whole ecosystems, as opposed to the conservation of individual species (Soulé 1985). Within plant conservation can be found many subfields/emphases. These include:

Audience, Scope, and Methods

This webliography was written for science librarians, botanists, ecologists, and natural resource managers. It is intended to serve as a resource for freely available plant conservation Internet content. The main criterion used to select sites was the presence of substantial content, defined as one or more unique and/or in-depth items of interest such as databases, reports, and plant lists. The webliography is not comprehensive; for example only English language sites were considered.

To identify sites the author consulted subject guides produced by academic libraries, databases, (such as WorldCat) directories, (Directory of Open Access Journals and the {Internet Directory of Botany}) and Internet search engines (Google and Yahoo).

Indexes and Databases

Internet Directory for Botany
The Internet Directory of Botany is a meta-list/index of botany web sites produced by Anthony R. Brach of the Harvard University Herbarium, and Shunguo Liu from SHL Systemhouse. There are several mirror sites, including ones in Croatia, France, Germany, and the United States. The list is quite long and arranged alphabetically, so one must use the search feature at the top of the page in order to search effectively. A search on conservation yielded 38 hits, mostly conservation organizations. This directory is very useful for identifying web sites related to any aspect of botany.

PLANTS National Database-Threatened and Endangered Module
The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service offers this searchable database of endangered and threatened plants. One can search on a family or genus or leave the dialog box blank and retrieve all plants. A search can be limited to one or more U.S. states and to protection status (federal or state). A profile with distribution, status, classification/taxonomy, species account and photographs is available for most of the plants in the database. This module is part of the larger PLANTS National Database where one can generate data reports on such topics as plant classification, invasive plants, state plant checklists, and culturally significant plants.

Pubmed, produced by the National Library of Medicine, is a bibliographic database containing more than 15 million biomedical citations. For plant conservation research this database would be most useful for searches involving medicinal plants. Citations are indexed using the National Library of Medicine's Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). The author found two subject terms particularly useful: "Plants, Medicinal" (more than 39,000 citations) and "Conservation of Natural Resources." A search which combined these two terms yielded 187 results. Ethnobotany, also a MeSH term, yielded 159 citations. Also available are a variety of genomic and molecular databases. A helpful start page for these database is {Plant Genome Central}.


BioOne, founded by a partnership of scientific societies, libraries, academe, and the private sector is an aggregator of more than 80 peer reviewed life science journals and bulletins. Some of the content is open access. Publications can be searched individually or collectively or can be browsed. At present, issues from 2000 forward are available. A table of contents alert feature is offered. A search across all publications for "plant conservation" (in the full text of articles) yielded 2,520 citations.

BMC Ecology
Although not solely concerned with plant conservation, BMC Ecology is an open access, peer reviewed journal that publishes original research articles on the environmental, behavioral, and population ecology of plants, animals, and microbes. BMC Ecology is a relatively new journal (2001) and is produced by BioMed Central, an open access publisher.

Ecology and Society
Ecology and Society is an open access, peer reviewed journal sponsored by the Resilience Alliance. Formerly Conservation Ecology, the journal has been in existence since 1997. Two regular issues are produced per year along with occasional special feature issues. The journal's scope is interdisciplinary; articles that are accessible to a wide range of scholars in both the social and natural sciences are encouraged. Sustainable practices are a major theme across issues. Using the site's search feature for "plant conservation," twenty articles were found.

Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy
Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy is produced by a partnership of the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and CSA, a privately owned information company. Launched in the Spring of 2005, this peer reviewed, open access journal features reviews, articles, guest editorials, and community essays (moderated discussions). As illustrated by the inaugural issue, the journal will feature cross-disciplinary work which addresses the social, economic, political, and biological/environmental dimensions of sustainability.

Botanical Gardens

Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG)
The Missouri Botanical Garden web site offers information of interest to the gardener, plant conservationist, and plant scientist. A gardening help/plant information page brings together information about garden plants, plant pest information, and gardening calendars. The MBG's {Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development}, contains links to full-text articles published by Center staff. The library's web site offers reference assistance, an online catalog and some online books including 77 volumes from the library's rare book collection.

New York Botanical Garden (NYBG)
The New York Botanical Garden web site contains information on the garden's educational and scientific programs. Gardening information, including a gardening calendar, houseplant profiles, and seasonal FAQs is available at (requires registration). NYGB runs a robust continuing education curriculum, a preK-8 school program, and the School of Professional Horticulture, details of which can be accessed at The LuEster T. Mertz Library holds more than 277,000 volumes of books and journals as well as seed and nursery catalogs, scientific reprints, microforms, photographs, architectural plans and original artwork. Also offered is the Index to American Botanical Literature. The emphasis of the index is on systematics and floristics, morphology, ecology, and economic botany. Coverage is from 1996 onward, and limited to America; broadly defined as the western hemisphere (including Greenland and Antarctica). One may search by author, title, journal, publisher, or keyword, or choose from a set of pre-defined categories. The Virtual Herbarium, an online collection of 800,000 herbarium specimens and 120,000 high-resolution specimen images, is an ongoing project to digitize all seven million of the garden's plant and fungi specimens. The garden publishes the Index Herbariorum: A Global Directory of Public Herbaria and Associated Staff, fully searchable online at The New York Botanical Garden Press publishes botanical titles, some concerning plant conservation.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG)
The Royal Botanic Gardens web site contains several sections relevant to plant conservation including the Conservation and Wildlife pages, the Kew Library and Archives, and The Conservation and Wildlife section contains information on RBG's conservation activities, including a tropical plant conservation program in Cameroon, the Millennium Seed Bank project, a field manual for seed collectors, and the CBD for Botanists, an introduction to the Convention on Biological Diversity (can be downloaded in English, Spanish and French). The {Kew Library and Archives} contain more than a half a million items, including books, botanical illustrations, photographs, letters, manuscripts, periodicals, biographies and maps. The collection is searchable using the online Library Catalogue. The {Kew Scientist} is a semi-annual newsletter containing plant conservation information and news, concerned primarily with the garden's activities. Coverage is from 1994 forward. is an online store for the publications of the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Conservation Organizations and Research Institutes

Botanical Gardens Conservation International (BCGI)
A partnership of botanic gardens worldwide, BCGI is at the forefront of international plant conservation and education efforts in botanic gardens. The site contains a wide range of articles concerning education at botanic gardens, a database of plants being conserved at botanic gardens worldwide, and an international list of events and meetings pertinent to plant conservation. The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, outlining 16 outcome-orientated targets related to plant conservation can be downloaded. Also available is the International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Conservation, a policy framework for botanic gardens to participate in conservation efforts aligned with the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (above). The agenda covers the prioritization of garden mission, and details of conservation and education efforts. The agenda is available in six languages (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Latvian). {Cultivate} is a bi-monthly electronic newsletter containing garden news, conservation case studies, and a 'Featured Garden' from around the world.

Canadian Botanic Conservation Network (CBCN)
The Canadian Botanic Conservation Network offers lists of Canadian plants at risk, lists of invasive species, a kids section, the full text of CBCN Newsletter, and a directory of botanic gardens in Canada. The full text of the Biodiversity Action Plan for Botanical Gardens and Arboreta in Canada, an in-depth guide to conservation, research, and education efforts, can be downloaded from the site. CBCN manages CBCN-L, a mailing list for anyone interested in plant conservation, biodiversity and botanical gardens. The Conservation Data Sources Index can be searched for agencies involved in conservation as well as web sites about plants at risk. CBCN's site is available in English or French.

Center for Applied Biodiversity Studies (CABS)
CABS is an organization involved in biodiversity research and the production of strategic conservation plans. Each of the Center's research projects, such as the Rapid Assessment Program and the Reptile and Amphibian Conservation Program are described on the site. A variety of publications including peer reviewed articles, brochures, periodicals and newsletters are available. Of particular interest to plant conservation is {Sustainable Forest Management: a Review of Conventional Wisdom} which can be downloaded in either English or Spanish. {RAP bulletins} describe the results of biodiversity assessments.

Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, University of Florida
The Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants at the University of Florida is a research center devoted to freshwater aquatic plants and aquatic and terrestrial invasive plants. The site contains plant profiles of invasive and aquatic plants found in Florida and general information about invasive plants. Also available is Aquaphyte Newsletter, a publication about aquatic, wetland, and invasive plants, and several online books and articles. {APIRS Online: the database of aquatic, wetland, and invasive plants} is a bibliographic database containing more than 65,000 article, book, and report citations on aquatic, wetland, and invasive plants. The database can be searched using fields such as title, author, subject, keyword, and scientific name. At this time the database does not have the functionality of its fee-based counterparts, such as marking or exporting references. However the staff will conduct free searches of the database and e-mail bibliographies.

Center for Plant Conservation (CPC)
The Center for Plant Conservation, a network of botanical institutions, manages the National Collection of Endangered Plants, a collection of plant material from more than 600 endangered or threatened plants native to the United States. Profiles of plants contained in the collection can be searched by scientific name, common name, and plant family. Each plant profile contains information on distribution, protection, and ecology as well as an extensive bibliography. CPC publications available for purchase include Ex Situ Plant Conservation, America's Vanishing Flora: Stories of Endangered Plants From the Fifty States and Efforts to Save Them, and Restoring Diversity: Strategies for Reintroduction of Endangered Plants. The Center for Plant Conservation maintains a very comprehensive set of links to native plant societies, databases, publications, and organizations, as well as a section on plant conservation news and a directory of organizations involved in plant conservation.

Eastern Native Seed Conservancy
The Eastern Native Seed Conservancy is a non-profit organization involved in the preservation of rare, heirloom, and endangered seeds. Two projects are currently in progress: Conservation and Regional Exchange by Seed Savers (CRESS) and the Native Seeds Project. The goal of CRESS is to collect and preserve seeds of Eastern food plants. The Native Seeds Project seeks to collect and preserve seeds from traditionally cultivated plants and distribute these seeds to Native Americans. Anyone can order a limited number of seeds from the catalog or become a participant grower, maintaining one or more varieties.

International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI)
The IPGRI is involved in plant conservation on an international level. The Crops/Species page contains links to full text reports, organizations, databases, and other information resources on a variety of crop species including cereals, roots, underutilized crops, and hardwoods. Links to germplasm, ethnobotany, and genebank databases can be found on the Genetic Resources Page. The Training page offers information on upcoming training opportunities. The {online catalog} offers a wide variety of publications in PDF format.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Information Network
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a botanical garden in Austin, Texas. The Center maintains the {Native Plants Database} containing taxonomy, distribution, and growing condition information on more than 6,000 native plants. An extensive botanical glossary can be accessed at {}. Also available is the Native Plant Bibliography which includes bibliographic information for field guides and other native plant resources. This resource is searchable by subject, U.S. state or region. Nurseries, landscape professionals, and seed companies can be located by searching the National Suppliers Directory. The web site also hosts an events calendar, a National Organizations Directory, an online store, and garden visitor information.

Native Plant Network
The Native Plants Network is a partnership of government agencies, universities, and private companies. The network produces Native Plants Journal, an open access journal focused on practical information about the cultivation of North American native plants. Issues from 2000 onward are available in PDF format. Also available is the Propagation Protocol Database, which contains propagation information on a variety of native North American species. Anyone involved in propagation can contribute entries after registering. An assortment of private, state, federal, and tribal nurseries have contributed thus far. The database can be searched or browsed by fields such as scientific name, family, state/province, or nursery. Each entry provides detailed instructions on how to propagate the plant. There are approximately 2,300 plants in the database.

Native Seeds Search
Native Seeds Search preserves and distributes the seeds of more than 2,000 varieties of arid adapted agriculture crops. The organization is involved in recording cultural and historical information about the crops they are preserving. The project enlists students from the Navajo and Tohono O'odham Nations who interview elders about traditional plants. Native Seeds Search has an online store which sells seeds, books, and foods produced from traditional plants.

Planta Europa
Planta Europa is a network of organizations working to conserve European plants. The Planta Europa Newsletter is published quarterly and covers the network's main activity: halting the loss of wild plant biodiversity. Also available is the European Plant Conservation Strategy, a document outlining 42 plant conservation targets for Europe to be achieved by 2007. Targets are arranged around five themes: understanding and documenting plant diversity, conserving plant diversity, using plant diversity sustainably, promoting education and awareness about plant diversity, and building capacity for the conservation of plant diversity. The document is available in six languages: Greek, Dutch, English, Russian, French, and Spanish.

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Department of Botany
The Smithsonian's Department of Botany of the National Museum of Natural History produces several full-text newsletters and books of interest to plant conservationists. {Biological Conservation Newsletter} publishes conservation research articles, current news, fellowship and grant information, job announcements, citations to new literature in the field, and upcoming meeting information. The newsletter is available online from mid-1991 onward. {Plant Press}, a quarterly newsletter, features activities of the department's staff as well as short pieces on plant conservation. The newsletter is available from 1998 onward. {Centres of Plant Diversity: the Americas} is an electronic book divided into three sections covering North, Middle (Central America and Caribbean), and South America. In each section, hot spots for plant diversity are mapped and profiled. Each profile includes information on geography, threats, conservation efforts, and references. The site also contains a glossary and list of acronyms.


Smithsonian Institution Botany & Horticulture Library
There are 20 branch libraries in the Smithsonian library system. The Botany Branch Library houses over 50,000 volumes, and the Horticulture Library houses more than 5,000 books, 2,700 volumes of periodicals, 10,000 trade catalogs, and 40 running feet of subject files. These libraries are housed together and are open to the public. Holdings can be searched using SIRIS the union catalog of the Smithsonian Libraries. Only staff may borrow materials; however non-affiliated users may borrow materials through interlibrary loan.

United States National Agriculture Library
With more than 3.3 million volumes, the U.S. National Agriculture Library (NAL) is one of the largest agricultural libraries in the world. The library's holdings can be searched using the online catalog. NAL materials may be ordered through the interlibrary loan system. Other NAL resources include more than a dozen specialized information centers, such as the Food Safety Information Center and the Alternative Farming Systems Information Center. These centers contain a variety of resources such as fact sheets, bibliographies, and links. Agricola is a bibliographic database of citations to articles, book chapters, short reports, and reprints in a variety of fields related to agriculture, including plant conservation. Coverage is from 1970 onward, international in scope, and includes such diverse fields as nutrition, zoology, population studies, geography and horticulture. Both Library of Congress and NAL subject headings are used, and can be browsed using the subject browse feature.

Mailing Lists/Discussion Groups

All About Native Plants Discussion Forum
Hosted by the Pennsylvania Native Plant Society, the forum is divided into a variety of categories such as: events/activities, seed, plant, and book exchanges, rare plant sightings, and invasive species. Much, but not all of the discussions center around local and regional activities.

Aquatic and Wetland Plant Forum-Conservation Section
This forum is concerned with the conservation, ecology, identification, and taxonomy of aquatic and wetland plants. According to the forum manager, the intent of the conservation section is to share reviews of the international status of taxa and of management problems and solutions. While the conservation section is not particularly active (36 posts since August 2001) it is the only forum dedicated to this unique and specialized subject matter.

Native Plant Societies

California Native Plant Society (CNPS)
The California Native Plant Society site contains A Manual of California Vegetation and the Inventory of California Rare and Endangered Plants, two very comprehensive full-text reference sources. The manual is a classification scheme for the native vegetation of California. The inventory is a searchable database containing the status and distribution of rare and endangered California plants. The society's web site also contains extensive information about ongoing conservation and education efforts.

Connecticut Botanical Society
The society's web site includes Connecticut fern, wildflower, and rare plant databases. Species descriptions and photos accompany each entry. Gardening advice and information specific to the New England region can be found. Two field guides are available, Quick Guide to the Common Ferns of New England and Quick Guide to the Common Goldenrods of New England. Each guide contains a table that helps distinguish species based on physical characteristics and links to fuller descriptions and images of the plant. Selected articles from the society's newsletter are available.

Maryland Native Plant Society
The Maryland Native Plant Society offers the full text of its occasional papers (Marilandica) and its newsletter (Native News). Society members have undertaken species surveys, primarily of threatened habitats. These, along with species lists, can be found at {}. Gardener's Guidelines are available to aid gardeners in the planting and cultivation of native plants. The full text of the Invasive Alien Species Handbook covering plant descriptions and removal techniques for species alien to Maryland can be downloaded at {}.

NGOs, Governmental, and Quasi-Governmental Entities Involved in Plant Conservation

Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research and Australian National Herbarium
The web site of the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research and the Australian National Herbarium contains several Australian specific plant databases of interest to conservation. These include the Australian Plant Images Index, the Australian Plant Name Index, What's Its Name?, and Australia's Virtual Herbarium. The {Australian Plant Images Index} is an ongoing project which contains portraits and photographs of plants native to Australia. The images are searchable by family, genus, and species. The Australian Plant Name Index includes plants names currently in use as well as previous names for a renamed plant. The {What's Its Name} database (WIN) is a plant name database for non-botanists. Australia's Virtual Herbarium, once completed will include entries on all plant specimens housed at herbaria across Australia.

Convention on Biological Diversity
This is the site of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, a part of the United Nations Environment Programme. The Convention on Biodiversity, a pact on sustainable development and the preservation of biological diversity, was signed by 150 government leaders in 1992. The full text of the Convention can be downloaded from the site, as well as news and programmatic information. The {Information Centre} is a searchable database of more than 3,000 monographs, reports, and articles on biodiversity and biosafety. One can search the catalog by program area, (including agricultural biodiversity, ex situ conservation, forest biodiversity, and invasive species) organization, conference name, or the usual search parameters (title, keyword, etc). Some of the entries contain links to the full text of the document, other entries contain only an abstract and bibliographic information.

IUCN World Conservation Union
Undoubtedly the largest and most influential international conservation organization, the IUCN is a membership organization of more than 1,000 organizations and 10,000 individual scientists. The IUCN consists of national and regional committees and six commissions (networks of volunteer scientists and experts). While the whole of the IUCN's web site is useful to those interested in plant conservation, the {Species Survival Commission's Plants Programme} site is particularly important. Here can be found links to the various Plant Specialists Groups, such as the Cactus and Succulent Specialist Group and the Medicinal Plants Specialist Group. The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation can also be downloaded. Specific action plans for a variety of plant groups, such as conifers, are also available in English, Spanish, or French. The Species Survival Commission publishes Species: Newsletter of the Species Survival Commission, a very comprehensive report on current news and activities related to conservation around the world. The newsletter is published biennially and issues are available from 2000 onward. Considered the most authoritative list of endangered and threatened species in the world, the 2004 IUCN Red List is a must for anyone interested in plant conservation. The list can be searched by a variety of criteria, including geographic location, threat status, habitat, and taxa. There is also an extensive set of summary statistics and a photo gallery.

Plant Conservation Alliance (PCA)
The Plant Conservation Alliance is a consortium of ten federal agencies involved in conservation. There are three working groups within PCA: Medicinal Plants, Restoration, and Alien Plants. Each group has its own page on the site with project information, publications, event calendars, a mailing list, and other resources. Also available are resources for kids, details of current projects, information on upcoming meetings, and funding opportunities.

USFWS Endangered Species Information Gateway
This is the home page for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species program and it serves as the gateway to U.S. government information about endangered species. One can find reports, endangered and threatened species lists, species information, and legal notices. {Endangered Species Bulletin} announces information on rulings and other official activities related to endangered species. Issues of the Bulletin are available online for the years 1995-2004. USFWS Recovery Plans for Endangered Species, a searchable database of recovery plans for endangered or threatened species is available at {}. The database is organized by taxonomic group, with plants divided up into flowering plants, lichens, ferns and fern allies, conifers and cycads. Clicking on one of these categories leads to a list alphabetized by common name. One can then follow links to species profiles and recovery plans.

Professional Societies

Ecological Society of America
The Ecological Society of America is a 9,000 member strong organization of ecologists, other scientists, and interested parties. The ESA's web site features meeting information, employment, internship, grant, and fellowship opportunities, ecology resources for teachers, and access to its subscription-only publications such as Ecology, Ecological Monographs, and Ecological Applications. A variety of fact sheets and position papers on ecological issues such as acid rain and biodiversity can be downloaded from the site.

Society for Conservation Biology
The Society for Conservation Biology is an international professional organization for all those with an interest in conservation. The Society publishes the highly respected journal Conservation Biology (full access only to subscribers). The society's newsletter is available online, and so are most of the listings in the conservation jobs database (most recent available only to members). In addition, undergraduate education resources (syllabi, textbook reviews, lecture notes), K-12 materials (under development), and graduate fellowship and internship opportunities are available.


Elsevier is a major publisher of scholarly material in the sciences. Elsevier's web site can be browsed by subject or publication type or searched by keyword. A search for plant conservation as a keyword across all titles yielded 89 hits, primarily books. To browse for plant conservation titles the best bet is to choose the category Agricultural and Biological Sciences, followed by choosing the subcategory Agricultural Science, Forest Science, or Plant Science. There are various alerting services offered to librarians, including database specific alerts (Scopus, Science Direct) and table of contents alerts.

Island Press
Island Press is a non-profit publishing house devoted to environmental science. Major topics include land use, biodiversity and conservation, sustainability, environmental health, and natural resource management. The online catalog can be browsed or searched by title, author, or subject. To browse for titles on plant conservation, choose biodiversity and wildlife, conservation and protected areas, forests and forestry, or conservation biology.

Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press is a major university press, publishing scholarly books and journals. The online catalog can be searched by keyword, author, title, or ISBN. A keyword search for plant conservation retrieved over 1,000 hits. One can also browse by subject or series. To browse for plant conservation titles, select Life Sciences->Ecology->Conservation Biology.

Springer is a major publisher in the sciences, medicine, and other fields. The online catalog can be searched by title, author, keyword, or ISBN. A keyword search for plant conservation yielded 53 books, six journals, 101 articles, and four web sites. To browse for plant conservation titles, choose either life sciences or environmental sciences.

Wiley, a major scholarly publisher offers searching and browsing capabilities in the online catalog. Searches can be done by title, keyword, author, or ISBN. A keyword search for plant conservation retrieved 8 hits, all books. To browse for plant conservation titles, choose Geography and Earth Sciences and then either Ecology, Environmental Science, or Forestry.


Heywood, V.H. & Iriondo, J.M. 2003. Plant conservation: old problems, new perspectives. Biological Conservation 113 (3):321-335.

Krupnick, G.A. & Kress. 2005. Plant conservation: a natural history approach. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Soulé, M. 1985. What is Conservation Biology? Bioscience 35:727-734.

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