Botanical Research Institute of Texas

Botanical Research Institute of Texas

The Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) was established in 1987 to hold in public trust the herbarium and botanical library amassed by Dr. Lloyd Shinners at Southern Methodist University. BRIT was founded as a private, non-profit organization to care for the collections, which were transferred on permanent loan to BRIT. The Botanical Research Institute of Texas is a 501(3)c organization governed by a Board of Trustees, and is located in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, USA.

BRIT is a conservation science organization with programs in research and education. BRIT is dedicated to supporting science and increasing its collections by discovering and documenting plant diversity both regionally and globally, and teaching conservation science through public education. BRIT’s [ International Award of Excellence in Conservation] is presented annually to an individual or organization that exemplifies the ideals expressed in BRIT’s mission statement.

Mission—"To conserve our natural heritage by deepening our knowledge of the plant world and achieving public understanding of the value plants bring to life."


Herbarium—BRIT is the custodian of two large herbaria: the Lloyd H. Shinners Collection in Systematic Botany, formerly housed at Southern Methodist University (SMU Herbarium), and the Vanderbilt University Collection (VDB Herbarium). In addition to these two well-known collections, BRIT also houses a number of smaller collections from various individuals and institutions. Additions of orphaned herbaria and new collections have brought the number of specimens housed at the institute to approximately one million, representing most of the Earth’s plant families. BRIT-SMU-VDB Herbarium is the largest independent herbarium in the Southern US.

Library—BRIT’s 75,000-volume library contains books, periodicals, and journals from more than 90 countries, representing all the world’s written languages. The nucleus of the library focuses on research in systematic botany, supplemented by a comprehensive collection of books and publications on other plant-related subjects. In 1997, BRIT received the Burke Children's Library, a private collection of 2,500 children’s books on botany and natural history.

Research—Research at BRIT is divided into three programs: Floras, Plants and Peoples, and Landscape Ecology. Floras encompasses the discovery, classification, and characterization of plants and vegetation. Plants and Peoples explores the relationship people have developed with plants over millennia. Landscape Ecology investigates plants and the environment.

BRIT botanists are engaged in floristic and systematic research and have detailed taxonomic expertise in a number of families. BRIT staff and Research Associates are currently involved in a number of floristic inventories and summaries in Texas and the southeastern USA, as well as the larger North American region, and internationally. A secondary component of the Floras program includes activity by BRIT’s research associates, some of whom work on contracts for professional services to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
* [ The Illustrated Texas Floras Project]
* [ The Flora of North America (FNA) Asteraceae Project]
* [ The Andes to Amazon Botany Program (AABP)]

Publications—In 1999, BRIT published the "Shinners & Mahler’s Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas". Written in collaboration with the Biology Department and Center for Environmental Studies at Austin College, this is the most comprehensive guide to a large portion of diverse Texas plant life, including 2,223 fully-illustrated species.

BRIT publishes two scientific journals: " [ Sida, Contributions to Botany] ", and "Sida, Botanical Miscellany", and a newsletter, "IRIDOS", which is distributed to Friends of BRIT throughout the world. "Sida, Contributions to Botany" is a series of peer-reviewed scientific papers and is a source of information about current research in botany worldwide. "Sida, Botanical Miscellany" is published as an occasional series of monographs in which each edition is devoted entirely to a comprehensive study of one topic.

Education—The BRIT Education program provides educational opportunities for people of all ages and interests. The Distinguished Lecturer series serves as an information forum on current plant-related topics as a public service to the community, drawing its audience from the North Central Texas region and Austin, Texas. The T.M. Barkley Plant Science and Ecology Seminar, in collaboration with Texas Christian University, provides a forum for faculty and university students to present current research. The Schools program offers inquiry based, TEKS correlated Discovery Programs for K-12 students on life science and environmental topics. BRIT’s Environmental Science Program for middle school and high school students provides high quality classroom resources and professional development opportunities that highlight Texas major ecosystems and local, regional, and global environmental and conservation issues.

External links

* [ BRIT] Botanical Research Institute of Texas website
* [ AABP] Andes to Amazon Botany Program
* [ Atrium] AABP Digital Herbarium

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