Flora of Chugach State Park: An Update

Introduction
Chugach State Park (CSP) in Southcentral Alaska contains approximately 495,000 acres of land, and is one of the four largest state parks in the United States (Figure 1). The Flora of CSP project is a volunteer led project organized by the Alaska Native Plant Society (AKNPS) in cooperation with CSP staff. The objective is to document the flora of the Park, including vascular plants, bryophytes, lichens, and fungi.

Methods
We are relying on crowdsourced observations through iNaturalist, existing herbarium records, and new voucher specimens to document the flora of CSP. The project was initiated in the spring of 2020 with the creation of the Flora of Chugach State Park iNaturalist project (www.inaturalist.org/projects/flora-of-chugach-state-park). Next, we applied for a permit from CSP, which was granted, to collect voucher specimens during the summer and fall of 2020. During the summer, volunteers recorded hundreds of observations of the flora of CSP and submitted those to iNaturalist. Additionally, we collected 99 voucher specimens. In the fall and early winter, volunteers provided identifications on iNaturalist, and experts verified voucher specimens. The voucher specimens have been sent to the herbarium at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAAH) for curation.

In February 2021, we compiled over 3,000 existing herbarium records and research grade iNaturalist observations from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (www.gbif.org) into a PostgreSQL database (Figure 1). We are currently in the process of performing data quality assurance and control review, beginning with a review of the location for each record (e.g, latitude/longitude). Observations with high quality location data have an accuracy of 11 m or better, and were recorded after the year 2000 when the U.S. government stopped intentionally degrading public GPS signals (known as “selective availability”). Records with low quality location data have an accuracy of >11 m and/or were recorded in 2000 or earlier when GPS technology was either 1) unavailable and observations were marked by hand on topographic maps, or 2) GPS signals were scrambled through selective availability.

We will soon prepare a progress report which we will submit to CSP and share on the ANPS website (www.aknps.org). The report will provide an overview of the project, data summaries, a species list, and recommendations for data collection in 2021. Many thanks to all those who contributed observations and assisted with identifications in 2020!

How You Can Help
If you would like to contribute observations to this project....it’s possible that you already have! The iNaturalist project is a “collection” project, which means that all observations that are recorded within the boundary of CSP and uploaded to iNaturalist are automatically included in the project. The Flora of CSP project will continue in 2021, and we need your help to make observations and provide identifications! To learn more please go to the iNaturalist link above. Please direct all questions to treasurer@aknps.org.

Posted by aaronfwells aaronfwells, March 28, 2021 00:52

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