Jennifer Doubt

 

Jennifer Doubt

Botanist and Curator, Canadian Museum of Nature

Plants and their ecosystems, humans included, interconnect in countless fascinating ways. From food and health to art and literature to sustainable development, history and national identity, the fundamental roles plants play has always intrigued me.

 
 
 

Meet the expert

 

Jennifer Doubt is a Botanist and Curator of the National Herbarium of Canada at the Canadian Museum of Nature.  Working with her colleagues, she cares for one of Canada’s largest, most active and historically significant collections of preserved plants, and makes this enormous library of plants accessible for research and education around the world.  The National Herbarium is known for its specimens from rarely-accessed Arctic regions, dating from well-known explorations that took place 200 years ago, through to the Museum’s present-day vibrant Arctic research program.

A Botanist is a scientist who studies plants and a botany Curator helps to manage the preservation and sharing of plant specimens for sustainable, productive use.  As a bryologist, one of the many categories of botanist, Jennifer has a special interest in mosses.

During Expedition Arctic, Jennifer was on a mission to explore the Arctic’s plant life and from a scientific and cultural perspective.

 
 

My mission

My mission was to explore the Arctic for plants and knowledge about the uses of plants. See how I tried to accomplish this task.

 
A flowering Dwarf Fireweed plant.

Dwarf Fireweed

All plants have evolved to thrive in specific environments.  Not all plants require nutrient-rich soil to grow, and some actually grow better in places that contain low organic content. Image: A Dwarf Fireweed plant

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Scorpion moss

All plants are unique. Some plants grow upwards towards the sky, while others stay close to the ground and grow outwards. Image: Scorpion moss

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A clump of Scorpion moss plant.
 

My trip

See what I discovered in the incredible Arctic. There was so much to see, learn and explore.

 
A flowering Arctic Poppy plant.

Arctic Poppy

When someone thinks of the Arctic, they tend to imagine a place that is cold, harsh and lifeless when the opposite, in fact, is true. The Arctic has a short but productive growing season and during this time you can find some of the most interesting and beautiful plants on the planet. Image: An Arctic Poppy plant.

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Sunburst lichen

Lichens are not plants, but rather a mutually-beneficial partnership between two types of organisms: fungi and algae. The fungi provide a protected home for the algae, which, for their part, provide nutrients as the result of photosynthesis. Lichens are very tough and can survive in harsh conditions where many plants cannot. Image: Orange Sunburst lichen

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Sunburst lichen on a rock.
 

My methods

Learn about the research methods I use to collect and catalogue plants from the Arctic and across Canada.

 

Interested in a career in Botany? Watch this video.

 

Jennifer Doubt’s blog posts

 

Iqaluit, Nunavut – Thursday, August 2

With the delay in Iqaluit, there has been quite a bit of botany going on.  We have to wait get under way in order to look for whales, birds, and fossils. However, plants are accessible everywhere – including right here in town.  Today I twice botanized the yard outside the residence we are staying in, [...]

On the expedition ship – Saturday, August 4

Today is our first day on board the expedition ship, and we are making our way through the ice of Frobisher Bay.  Aside from wistfully gazing at the shore through binoculars, the botanical opportunities are limited for the moment to the microscopes and the little library I smuggled on board, despite the weight considerations we [...]

 

Arctic adventures – Wednesday August 8

This ship is great for getting around, but boy, do I ever love to go ashore.  There is so much plant life, and already so little time left to explore it.  In some places, the flowers create colourful splashes of life on gravelly soil, but in most of the places we stop, the tundra is [...]

Final days – Sunday, August 12

When I retrieve specimens from the National Herbarium for my research, or to share with students or visitors, the labels always send my imagination spinning.  The rectangular, black-and-white summary on the outside of packets or at the bottom right-hand corner of herbarium sheets documents the species name, the place where it was collected, and the [...]