Destructive Sampling Policy

The collections of the Duke University Herbarium are maintained with the goal of balancing preservation of the integrity of herbarium specimens with utilization for scientific research. While every effort will be made to accommodate researchers, decisions concerning destructive sampling of collections are made on a case-by-case basis. As a rule, no material may be removed from specimens without prior consent of an appropriate member of the curatorial staff. Permission for removal of material is contingent upon adherence to the following guidelines: Leaf material, pollen, spores, etc. may be removed from specimens only when adequate material is available. Care must be taken not to damage the specimen.

Material may not be removed from type collections or from taxa represented in the herbarium by fewer than three collections except in rare instances, and then only by an appropriate staff member, or with advance permission.

Each specimen must be annotated indicating the material removed, the nature of the study, the researcher's name and institutional affiliation, and the date. The Duke University Herbarium [DUKE] should be cited in any resulting publication, a copy of which should be sent here. Attach a DNA voucher annotation label with a paper clip on the outside of the specimen with that information.

Material may not be removed from an herbarium sheet for a second time if the nature of the study is the same (i.e., pollen material for SEM, leaf material for DNA analysis, etc.). Exceptions will be made in cases where additional material was collected specifically for sampling purposes (e.g., air-dried leaf material for DNA analysis).

We encourage the researcher to return a duplicate permanent pollen, spore, or leaf slide or an SEM photograph to the Duke University Herbarium. The label on the slide or photograph should provide the name of the taxon, the collector's name and number, the country of origin of the voucher sheet from which the sample was obtained, and the method of preparation used. Such material will be housed in the herbarium in a suitable place, cross-referenced to the specimen from which it was removed, and made accessible to other researchers as requested.

Requests for removal of material for DNA studies will be reviewed and approved by the appropriate curator. Requests should state the amount of material needed. Excessive destruction must be avoided. Results (both positive and negative) must be reported in writing, the specimens must be annotated, and GenBank and/or EMBL accession numbers must be included (sent later, if necessary). A reference to where the results are published is highly desirable, as well as reprint of the publication. The researcher must provide DUKE with location and storage method of any left-over sample. The Duke University Herbarium reserves the right to request DNA or molecular information obtained from DUKE specimens. Removal shall not be permitted if there is reason to believe that the data sought cannot be obtained from such a sample (e.g., the technique is not sufficiently well known to consistently produce satisfactory results) or the specimen is known to be unsuitable for sampling (e.g. old or treated with heat or chemicals inimical to DNA sampling). Herbarium specimens should not be the source of first choice if there are other available sources for the desired material.

The Duke University Herbarium maintains no records on the history or treatment of the collections; materials are supplied with no warranty of any kind.

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