Skip to main content

Smithsonian Science How Webcast

Ecosystem Change - Plotting with Plant Collections

In this video, Rusty Russell explains how plant collections can be used to understand change over time.


Meet Rusty Russell, former Botany Collections Manager at the National Museum of Natural History. Rusty managed 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. This show aired January 15, 2015.



National Middle School Standards

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Life Science


Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
  • MS-LS2-1Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.
  • MS-LS2-2Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.
  • MS-LS2-4Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
Earth Science


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

All Q?rius Resources for These Standards

--> -->