In this project, we will deal with the butterworts (Pinguicula), a curious group of rosette-forming carnivorous plants within the bladderwort family (Lentibulariaceae). Butterworts comprise of ca. 100 species, many of which are severely threatened regional endemics confined to single valleys or mountaintops. They are found in Eurasia, northern Africa and the Americas, are usually absent from the lowlands, and are restricted to moist to wet nutrient-limited habitats such as trickled rocks, bogs or shallow soils. These plants exhibit a peculiar strategy to supplement their poor diet. They capture and digest prey such as small insects using their sticky mucilaginous leaves similar to the unrelated but generally better-known sundews.
As plants of fragile, nutrient-poor habitats, many species are extremely vulnerable to habitat destruction, often caused by land-use change, drainage or eutrophication. Hence, documenting their diversity, historic and present-day occurrence are key factors for a better understanding of their distribution, diversity and threats, and should facilitate their urgently needed protection.
The Herbarium of the University of Vienna, Austria
The herbarium is the second-largest Austrian herbarium and ranges among the largest university collections worldwide. Founded 1879, the herbarium holds about 1,5 million specimens with a focus on vascular plants of Central Europe, the Balkan region and China, although all plant and fungal groups worldwide are covered. Herbarium specimens comprise of dried plants and attached labels holding valuable information on collectors, localities, habitats and ecology. As such specimens and the associated data offer a plethora of opportunities for research and conservation, and we want to document them all to unlock them for public goods! These data will subsequently be made available online at https://www.jacq.org.
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