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Arnold Arboretum

Michael S. Dosmann

Curator of Living Collections

125 Arborway
Boston, MA 02130
Phone: 617.384.5209
Fax: 617.524.1418


PhD Horticulture and Ecology, Cornell University
MS Horticulture, Iowa State University
BS Public Horticulture, Purdue University

As Curator of Living Collections, my primary role is to guide the sound development of this historic and dynamic collection of temperate woody species. This involves reviewing our collections, setting acquisition targets (and acquiring them), as well as determining which discretionary plants are to be deaccessioned to make room for new material. We don’t just curate objects (the plants), we curate associations of objects and information. Thus, the plants in our collection possess unique value due to their robust documentation such as archival records, collection notes from the native habitat, herbarium specimens, photographs, observations over time, taxonomic verifications, and even the results of scientific research conducted upon them. To ensure these and other documentation needs are met at the highest of standards, I oversee a talented team of curatorial staff who are engaged in field checking, mapping, records management, researcher engagement, taxonomic reviews, voucher collection and preparation, and of course, good old-fashioned sleuthing.

In addition to my administrative duties, I am involved in a number of scholarly activities which mainly focus on the curation of living plant collections. One of my objectives in the Curatorial Department is to explore new strategies and tactics that improve collections management in botanical gardens and arboreta. Recent and on-going efforts include initiating new systems for assessing and developing living collections; trialing novel fieldchecking and inventory protocols; improving the management of conservation-status taxa; enhancing access to archival and contemporary documentation; and conducting post hoc analyses to improve germplasm collecting expeditions. Additionally, I continue to conduct research on the physiological ecology of woody plants and participate in floristic efforts through domestic and foreign plant exploration.

Selected Publications

Current Grants


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