Chad Husby, Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC) collections manager and botanist, is implementing a handheld, weather-resistant PDA interface system for MBC. Laura Vasquez, MBC field supervisor, has also been instrumental in this effort. The PDA interface system will allow users to view MBC’s database and enter data while in the field. Previously, field specialists would communicate this information via radio. Using handheld PDAs reduces the chance for error in the transcription of data and eliminates redundancy in the time spent recording data first, by hand, in the field and later, via computer, in MBC’s database.

Michael Calonje, MBC cycad biologist, has secured ArcGIS’ ArcView software through an Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI)-sponsored Conservation Program grant. Using ArcView geographic information systems (GIS) software, Michael has imported information from BGBase (MBC’s database), mapping data points on a world map. These interactive, intuitive maps show the provenance of Montgomery Botanical’s research collections. Any portion of the map can be magnified and, by clicking on a particular accession, its data easily viewed. This is also an invaluable tool for evaluating the effectiveness of MBC’s collections strategy and for planning future expeditions.

Dr. Patrick Griffith, MBC executive director, in applauding these developments, stated, “MBC’s collections database has always been useful and functional. Building enhanced capability and efficiency into an existing system can be difficult, but these advancements go far in upgrading our data management abilities. That these upgrades used external funding makes this success even better.”