How Can I contribute to BONAP?

A frequent question we are asked: How can I become involved with BONAP? 

In the early 1960's, when I first envisaged BONAP, I asked a similar question regarding the North American vascular flora, how could I become involved? There was no National plant checklist, no National plant atlas, and no single publication available to identify all of the plants beyond a single region of the country. Indeed, from the beginning, my intention to produce this work was purely selfish. I wanted to know the size of our flora, where our plants grew, and how to identify them. As my efforts expanded and knowledge increased, these rather nebulous tasks became clearer to me. Although I have completed some of these tasks, at least for this edition, there is still much to do. I am hopeful that friends, colleagues and those who share an interest in natural history will view the Taxonomic Data Center and North American Plant Atlas as a data repository upon which to add to our knowledge. Therefore, BONAP needs your help! 

A continental flora or fauna cannot be built alone. Help is needed to fill in missing county-level occurrences, to add descriptive texts, to correct errors and omissions, to add images to the photographic collection, to use our websites as teaching tools for young students and adults, enabling them to become more appreciative and knowledgeable about our rich and diverse flora.  Community-wide participation is able to produce profoundly beneficial results for both the general public and for the scientific community. Everyone who shares an interest in our natural resources is invited, indeed welcomed, to join BONAP to help advance our knowledge of floristics and faunistics across North America (see below). 

Ways in which you can help and become involved with BONAP.

1. You can become involved most fundamentally by using our products, including our checklists, websites, CD-ROMs.  Our websites and accompanying Floristic Synthesis CD-ROM are being used extensively to assess records of occurrence, to compare numbers of taxa within various regions across North America, to learn the latest taxonomy being used, to predict plant occurrences on a certain soil type, within a certain ecoregion, or missing from a certain location. 

2. You can help by providing additional, and higher quality photographs. Many of the photographs were taken decades ago on film, and have faded with time. We are constantly seeking digital photographs to replace those older ones, and filling in gaps for species lacking photographs. A photograph is needed for every scientific name lacking an accompanying camera icon on BONAP's TDC. All photographs include a copyright and/or statement of ownership by the contributing photographer. 

3. We estimate that one or two million county-level plant occurrences can be added across the North American landscape. We want to fill in as many of these as possible and can do so only through your help.

4.We suspect that far more unreported garden escapes and exotics exist in the wild. We need you to inform us of where they occur. Remember, all new county or state-level records need verification via voucher specimens sent to BONAP, or deposited within a herbarium. Alternatively, high quality photograph (slides or digital images), illustrating sufficient morphological detail for identification can be submitted. Individuals who submit new records will be credited by name, which will be linked to their submission and displayed permanently within our database.

5. Individuals and institutions can help by sharing their natural resource databases or other forms of data. Historically, BONAP has worked with university herbaria, museums, conservation groups and individuals to develop our data. This collaboration has proven to be beneficial to both BONAP and to our contributors. We use various forms of data including digital, hard copy, photographs, graphs, etc.  We welcome all available data that you believe to be useful and are willing to share.

6. Enrolling as a formal member of BONAP. By becoming a member of BONAP, you agree to support BONAP’s efforts to promote knowledge of our natural environment, to promote the wise use of our natural resources, and to encourage interaction between the scientific community and lay public. Your membership in BONAP will help to achieve these goals. We ask that you endorse these principles and send in and email request to become a formal member. New BONAP members will receive a small complementary gift. 

7. Financial contributions to BONAP. To keep overhead and expenses at a minimum, BONAP, has functioned for nearly half a century as a small private organization; comprising primarily a loosely knit collection of professional scientists and consultants who share a common interest. From BONAP’s inception, funding has come nearly exclusively from federal contracts for specific tasks and products. Although BONAP maintains its own website and provides CDs of its products, it does so at significant financial cost. To maintain our floristic endeavor and expand our goal of preparing comparable databases for the vertebrate fauna, financial support is needed. The total cost to complete an accounting of North America’s vertebrates is estimated at approximately $2.8 million, or nearly $600,000 per annum over a five year period. Whether or not the final goal is achieved, it will not deter our intent, but will affect the rate at which the compilation proceeds.