Access to collection label data of South American Andean plants within an integrated database management system provides improved access to the collections on which much taxonomic work on Andean flora is based. As the following article illustrates, our databases facilitate research and information-sharing, and greatly increase the efficiency of standard herbarium operations such as the generation of specimen labels, annotation labels, and determination lists.
At the Field Museum, we have been databasing our incoming Peruvian and project related material for several years using an IBM PC, and dBase� (Version IV for DOS or V for WINDOWS) database software in tandem with WordPerfect� (Version 5.1 for DOS or 6 for WINDOWS). The specimen-label information from over 7500 collections from coastal Chile and Peru have been electronically captured and are available in checklists. A comparable database project, DETBASE, contains over 10,000 collections from northern Peru (Departments Amazonas, Ancash, Cajamarca, Piura, Lambayeque, La Libertad, San Mart�n). These databases serve a wide variety of functions ranging from generation of herbarium specimen labels to generating checklists, exsiccatae, and statistics.
Checklists generated from LOMAFLOR and DETBASE may be found in the Environments section. The following publication describes the database system developed at the Field Museum and shared with our research colleagues in Peru:
The vegetation of western South America is influenced by periodic and recurrent El Niño events. The physics behind the El Niño or El Ni�o Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon is complex and readers are urged to consult numerous sites that provide a more complete explanation of the origins and monitoring of ENSO events [El Ni�o Web Links]. Simply put, El Niño conditions prevail when the normally cold waters of the coast of western South America are displaced by a warmer, western Pacific surface and subsurface body of water that stimulates brief periods of heavy rainfall and relatively high temperatures. This influx of available moisture has profound effects within the lomas formations and has undoubtedly helped shape their composition and structure. This portion of the site is under active construction and will be expanding in the coming months.
Research has been supported, in part, by National Science Foundation grants: Biogeography and Evolution of the Lomas formations of Peru and Chile (BSR-8513205) and Botanical Collections and Ecological Observations in Coastal South American Deserts during the 1997/98 ENSO Event (DEB-801297). Support from the National Geographic Society is also acknowledged.