American Public Gardens Association Workshop, Metacollections Management: new approaches for improving living conservation collections





The Global Conservation Consortia hosted a workshop at the American Public Gardens Association 2023 Conference. The workshop was focused on metacollection management, showcasing presentations that define and provide examples of a ‘metacollection’, an in-depth overview of the Global Conservation Consortia, Plant Collections Network, the conservation gap analysis methodology, and managing metacollection data. The presenter’s affiliation and contact information is below. Also, you can read the workshop abstract below and access the workshop slides (linked on the right-hand side) for more information.


  • Amy Byrne, The Morton Arboretum,
  • Emily Coffey, Atlanta Botanical Garden,
  • Jeremie Fant, Chicago Botanic Garden,
  • Patrick Griffith, Montgomery Botanical Center,
  • Jean Linsky, Atlanta Botanical Garden,
  • Abby Meyer, Botanic Gardens Conservation International U.S.,

Workshop Abstract:

The public garden community has long known that we are more impactful working together than on our own, but how does that translate to living collections? A network of coordinated living collections at multiple sites managed as a single population—​a metacollection​—is the most effective and efficient way to conserve genetic diversity of threatened exceptional plants (plants that cannot be conserved in conventional seed banks). Metacollections are living gene banks that can be used for research, education, restoration, and act as an insurance policy against extinction. Zoos have long been practicing a metacollection model for animals and developed two-pronged database and breeding software that work together to guide management of captive populations of rare, priority species. Taking after the Zoo model, “PlantSearch Pedigree and “PMxceptional,” were designed to support living collections management of exceptional plant species. These new tools will revolutionize the plant community’s ability to share and leverage collection data for managing coordinated living collections of high conservation value; they can be utilized by those who are a part of coordinated threatened plant metacollection networks which rely on sharing data across stakeholders for the effective conservation of priority, threatened species.

In this workshop, participants who are collections managers, field botanists, conservationists, curators, and similar, with existing or emerging conservation programs at their institutions, will be trained in metacollection management and the PMXceptional and PlantSearch Pedigree module tools. Presenters will explain the background and rationale for each tool, and demonstrate their features. Participants will learn how to share and access collections data via the PlantSearch Pedigree module, and how to use PMx analyses to make management decisions. In addition, other valuable tools and resources for managing metacollections of rare plant germplasm will be shared. We aim to help participants learn how to maximize the conservation value of their collections, within the context of their organization’s current capacity. Overall, participants will learn about these emerging metacollection and conservation tools, and how to apply them to meet institutional and collective conservation goals.

APGA Workshop Presentation Slides