WEBCAST: Ecosystem Change - Plotting with Plant Collections

Watch the archive of the webcast featuring Rusty Russell. In the show, Rusty explains how plant collections can be used to understand change over time.

Smithsonian Science How: Ecosystem Change - Plotting with Plant Collections

Featuring Botany Collections Manager Rusty Russell

Meet Rusty Russell, Botany Collections Manager at the National Museum of Natural History. Rusty manages collections activities in the U.S. National Herbarium, a research collection that contains more than 5 million pressed, dried plant specimens. What is the point of keeping so many plant specimens? Take a journey with Rusty to see how plant collections can be used to map ecosystem changes over time. Visit a part of Southern California that experienced a dramatic shift in plant species composition during the 20th century. See how students and other volunteers can be instrumental in collecting data to tell the story of ecosystem change.  

Watch a recording of the Jan. 15, 2015, webcast using the video player above. The show aligns with national science standards.

How do you participate in the webcast program?

1. WATCH the archive video above

2. Get TEACHING RESOURCES for the webcast

3. Design an ASSESSMENT for your students


The Ecosystem Change - Plotting with Plant Collections Webcast package supports students in meeting the following middle school NGSS Performance Expectations by offering a set of resources that integrate science concepts with science practice skills.

MS-LS2 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

  • MS-LS2-1 Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem
  • MS-LS2-2 Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems
  • MS-LS2-4 Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations
  • MS-LS2-5 Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services

MS-ESS3 Earth and Human Activity

  • MS-ESS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment