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- CPBR News 10-

News from the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research and
Australian National Herbarium (CANB)

For the information of CPBR and ANBG staff and volunteers

November, 1998

1. Herbarium and Services

1.1 APNI Position

Terena Lally will be employed from 21 October on the 10 month, full-time APNI position funded by ABRS. Terena will be working with Kirsten Cowley for the first 3-4 weeks to learn the system and become familiar with the applications, then she will be concentrating on three families: legumes, grasses and composites. Welcome Terena.

1.2 Curation Position

Lindy Cayzer has accepted an offer to work six months full time in Program C to concentrate on the backlog of identifications associated with curation. Lindy will start on 30 November. Welcome Lindy.

1.3 1999 Interns Program

Applications for the 1999 Interns Program have now closed, with a total of 34 applications received. After some judicious screening and interviewing over the coming week, we will be offering places to up to 20 applicants. A number of staff have also made submissions for Intern labour over February, and these will be considered along with any pre-existing Intern tasks in Program C closer to the time.

Staff of CPBR and ANBG are reminded that they are welcome to attend any of the lecture sessions offered as part of the Interns Program if they wish. Our only request is that you let either Brendan Lepschi or Bob Makinson know beforehand, so that we can make arrangements for extra seating, etc.

As in previous years, the Map Room will be "home" for the Interns over the duration of the Program. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. Staff needing to access maps, atlases, etc in the Map Room can still continue to do so at any time, except when lectures are in progress. There are additional copies of the Readers Digest atlas in both the Computing Room and the Loans Area, and a gazetteer in the Computing Room. We will endeavour to move the PC on which Index Kewensis is installed out of the Map Room and into the Library for the duration of the Interns Program. Please let either Brendan or Bob know if there are any other disruptive aspects we need to address.

[Brendan Lepschi]

2. Research Groups

2.1 Program A

In accordance with CSIRO PI's plans and as suggested in the Centre Review, Randy Bayer will now take responsibility as Leader of Program A, Biodiversity and Evolution of the Australian Flora. This will officially begin as of 1 December, with Judy West working closely with Randy for the first six months to assist him in the transition. Congratulations to Randy. Judy will retain responsibility and management for the Atherton group, since Randy has had no contact or interactions with the rain forest research group to this time. As Director of the CPBR, Judy will also continue to play an active role in the formulation of research directions.

[Jeremy Burdon]

2.2 Program A Systematics Discussion Group

To provide a friendly venue for plant systematics discussion and to facilitate the communication between the various people in Program A, we have decided to hold a regular (monthly), one hour meeting in the Centre. The meeting will be useful to discuss particular items which may be important to all participants of Program A and C, and for people within the program to give informal 15 minute presentations about their work and/or present a particular technique or taxonomic problem and/or solution for discussion.

The meetings will be held in the map room at 10.30 am on the first Wednesday of each month. We have asked Rogier de Kok to coordinate this discussion group. If you have ideas or topics you want raised then please talk to him.

Any one from the Centre is welcome to attend; but particularly the scientific and technical staff of Program A should make and find this a stimulating way of sharing information and ideas.

The first gathering will be this week Wednesday, 2 December at which we will take the opportunity to have initial discussions about the regular Research Program review to be held in March 1999.


    i. 10:30 - March Research Program review.

    ii. 10:45 - Talk: The multiple joys of the Pultenaea mollis group.

    P. mollis is a widespread very variable species which has been subdivided in the past. The taxonomic history and important characters are discussed.

    iii. 11:00 - Questions and Discussions related to the talk.

    iv. 11:30 - adjournment.

[Randy Bayer and Judy West]

2.3 Gnaphalieae Research

Welcome back to David Greber, a former Summer Student. David will be working with Randy Bayer on aspects of the phylogeny of the Gnaphalieae. David will be in the Centre for 6 weeks (23 Nov-15 Jan 1999) supported by a small grant from ABRS.

2.4 Elizabeth Watkin

Elizabeth Watkin has started at the Centre as a two year post-doc in host-microbes working on rhizobial interactions. Welcome Elizabeth.

2.5 PhD Scholarships

CSIRO Plant Industry has decided to fund three PhD scholarships, on a competitive basis across the Division. The Centre has submitted three proposals:

    i. Reproductive biology of Australian Gossypium species (Curt Brubaker)

    ii. Systematics of broom bush; the Melaleuca uncinata complex (Lyn Craven)

    iii. Molecular ecology of fragmented whitebox (Eucalyptus albens) populations (Andrew Young)

Expressions of interest close on 2 December. The proposals can be found on the CSIRO Web site (www.pi.csiro.au).

[Jeremy Burdon]

2.6 Seminar Facilitator

Ish Sharma, who has been the Centre seminar facilitator for the past two years will step down at the end of the year. Thank you Ish for an interesting and varied program run with such efficiency.

Tony Willis has kindly agreed to take on this role from January. Please make sure you inform Tony if you have a visitor coming to the Centre or of someone's work you feel we should hear about.

[Judy West]

2.7 Pultenaea Victorian Field trip 28 October to 19 November 1998

Victoria is the most species rich and most diverse state of Australia when it comes to Pultenaea. So between 28 October and 19 November Rogier de Kok, Jim Mant and Judy West (from October 28 to 1 November) went on a field trip in order to study the morphological diversity within and between the different populations of the Victorian Pultenaea species.

The first week was spent in the Grampians, the main purpose was to study the different populations of the variable species P. mollis and to collect the five endemic species of the region. After the Grampians a long tour was made via Mount Arapiles, the Little Desert to the Coast at Portland, the Otway's, the Brisbane Ranges and finally Melbourne. In Melbourne we visited the Botanic Gardens and Herbarium and the University of Melbourne. Some more type specimens of Pultenaea were located in the Herbarium, which hopefully will help solve a number of taxonomic problems. After Melbourne the road took us to the hills north and east of the city, and to the beaches of Portsea. In this last locality we searched for the coastal form of P. tenuifolia, not easy given the heavy rain and strong winds. After visiting a number of sites in the Omeo area and along the East Gippsland coast we crossed the mountains via the Bonang Valley highway and went back into Northern Victoria to Pine Mountain and the Warby Ranges in order to visit the last few collection sites.

In total about 150 collections, mainly Pultenaea, were made. I have now been able to examine in the field and collect further material for 37 of the 49 Pultenaea species known for Victoria. As well as herbarium specimens, we also collected leaf material for future molecular analyses and prepared buds for chromosome number determinations for those species at the right stage. It was all in all a very successful field trip which gave me a number of new ideas to think about and disproved some others.

[Rogier de Kok]

3. Information Technology and Data Management

3.1 WWW Site

The URL for the Centre can be found at: http://www.anbg.gov/cpbr/

Please check regularly for new items of interest re Centre staff and activities.

3.2 Plant Names Project (PNP)

Greg Whitbread continues to collaborate with staff from Kew and Harvard in the design of the new PNP database and the user interface, with a major emphasis on maintaining compatibility between this dataset and the Australian Plant Name Index (APNI).

Much of the editorial correction of APNI going on is with the PNP in mind. We have received a revised version of the Kew list of author abbreviations that will be incorporated into the APNI database.

Due to the delayed start of this project, a revised budget for this year has been prepared.

[Jim Croft]

3.3 Herbarium databases (ANHSIR and APNI)

Terena Lally and Kirsten Cowley have all but completed the APNI entries for Extinct, Endangered and Vulnerable Australian plants; they are waiting on a number of inter library loans of obscure literature to complete the task. Work continued on trying to tidy up inconsistencies in author names and publication titles.

Greg Whitbread prepared a queryable WWW interface to the current version of APNI that includes synonymy so far entered, and links to the regions represented in the Census of Australian Vascular Plants. Find it on:


Brendan Lepschi is the contact person for APNI content. See him if you come across omissions or errors of content. There is no guarantee that they can all be fixed quickly, but we need to know what they are.

John Hook has installed the herbarium specimen database on more computers for use by Centre staff and Pennie Hohnen has started training Judith Campbell in its use. See John if you have a need to enter data in this application. Julie Paul and Pennie Hohnen are ensuring that data is going in, and by the next newsletter we hope to be able to report that data is coming out (in the form of field notes and loan lists).

Greg Whitbread has finalised routines to load HISPID compliant data from other herbaria, to save redoing data entry that has already been done. This exercise has revealed a number of inconsistencies that will mean a number of small structural changes to the ANHSIR database.

[Jim Croft]

3.4 Curation Table

The 'Curation Table', mentioned in the last newsletter, is now available to use and staff, in particular Jo Palmer, are checking its content for duplication and consistency. Jo is co-ordinating this application - see her if you want stuff added or amended, or want to help build the dataset. It was demonstrated to staff at the Centre and the Gardens. It is a tool to help people find stuff in the herbarium and is only as good as the data it contains - keep an eye on it and keep it current.

[Jim Croft]

4. Education and Communication

4.1 ANBG Photo Collection

The Photograph Collection recently supplied 22 photographs to David Bowman of the Northern Territory University . These are to be used in a forthcoming publication called "Australian Rainforests: Islands of green in the land of fire".

David has sent the text of the book to Murray Fagg as it may prove useful in the planned display at the Gardens on the effect of fire on the Biota.

A scan of a slide of Eucalyptus marginata has also been sent by email to Hugh Glen at the National Botanical Institute in Pretoria who co-edits a journal for the Tree Society of South Africa. For the 50th anniversary of the Society Hugh plans to republish some of the articles that appeared in the very earliest roneoed newsletters. One of these articles was on jarrah which the Forestry Department was starting to grow at that time.

[Jan Wilson]

4.2 Big Pods

Bruce Gray recently send down from Atherton some Entada phaseoloides fruit for the Education Unit at the ANBG. The largest of these pods, 95cm long, was a great attraction when we hosted a group of young 'Environmental Envoys' from eight different countries in Asia. - Thanks Bruce.

[Murray Fagg]

5. General Centre Matters

5.1 Advisory Committee Meeting

The recent Advisory Committee meeting, held on 5 November apparently went very well. Two new members were present; Pat Selkirk and Roger Good. The third new member, Brian Scarsbrick, was unable to attend. The Director has invited him to visit the Centre next time he is in Canberra.

Both Margaret Feilman and John Landy will shortly step down from the Advisory Committee and when they do so, there will be a gap in the business and industry stakeholder area of expertise. The AC membership is the Board's responsibility, but if you have any ideas of people you feel may be appropriate for the Board to consider for the Committee please discuss them with Judy West.

The Chairman, Bob Johnson has drafted the report from the recent meeting and it is currently with the other AC members for consideration. Bob intends to have the report with us in time for the next Board meeting December 21.

[Judy West]

5.2 Guidelines for CPBR Students

With the increasing flow of students of all types into the CPBR, Judy and Jeremy (with input from various others) have put together some points to act as general guidelines regarding students and student supervision in the Centre. Given the tight accommodation situation in the Centre, we would be grateful if you would follow these guidelines as hopefully they will ensure that we don't make commitments that cannot be honoured. A copy of these guidelines follows.

i. Honours, Graduate Diploma, MSc and PhD Students

  • Registration

    All students who will be working in our labs (regardless of their funding sources) must be registered by the Division. This is done by submitting a request to CSIRO-PI Human Resources Committee (HRC) via Jeremy Burdon. This needs to be done well before the student is to start working.

    Until this paperwork is completed, and evidence that the student is enrolled at a University is provided, there is no insurance cover. Furthermore, access cards and email connections cannot be organised before HRC approval is received.

  • Laboratory and Desk Space

    Early notification of new students is also essential if the student is to be allocated any desk space in the Centre. Before commitments are made to students for whom laboratory and herbarium access is required, staff must consult with Jeremy Burdon, relevant Program Leaders (Randy Bayer, Tony Brown, Jim Croft and Bob Makinson) and other appropriate staff to ensure facilities are available both now and in the future.

  • Occupational Health and Safety (OH & S)

    It is the supervisor's responsibility to ensure that all new students are aware of the standard OH & S requirements that we are required to follow. Obviously, points of particular emphasis will vary depending on the nature of the project (laboratory, field, combination) but features such as instructions on safety with chemicals, location of fire extinguishers, the requirement to wear lab coats and closed toe shoes, and not to store or consume food or drink in laboratories all spring to mind. For field related projects ensuring that first aid kits are carried and that others are aware of where you are going are essential items.

  • Vehicle Use

    Registered students are eligible to use PI vehicles after approval has been obtained. This is done through Jeremy Burdon and involves filling out form TH4/4 - "Authorisation to Drive a CSIRO Vehicle". The process involved usually takes approximately a week to complete.

  • Technical Assistance

    Students are not eligible for direct technical assistance, although they may clearly benefit from indirect assistance provided by the provision of items such as laboratory stock solutions etc.

  • Glasshouse Facilities

    Glasshouse space allocation should normally be included in the space allocated to the studentĘs supervisor. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring appropriate glasshouse practice and hygiene is maintained.

  • Email accounts

    It is possible to organise these for students (again via Jeremy Burdon). However, all students should be aware that they should not expect continuance of accounts after thesis submission.

  • Annual Reports

    All Graduate Diploma, MSc and PhD students are required to provide a brief report (circa 1-2 pages) on their work and activities by 1 March each year. Honours students are required to provide a similar summary report at the end of their year's work.

  • Student Theses

    All students supervised by CPBR staff and who work extensively in the Centre are asked to lodge a copy of their thesis in the CPBR library on completion of their studies. This will ensure that a copy of the work of all our students is available for consultation in the future.


    The notes below are only relevant to students who are employed on CSIRO payroll. (For all other students, if you believe they have a case for support, you should discuss this with your Program Leader and Jeremy Burdon BEFORE making any commitments.)

  • Attendance at Australian meetings

    If approved (and please note this is not automatic and is certainly limited in numbers of times/year), students would receive registration costs, some travel and accommodation assistance. For travel this is likely to be the cheapest practical means (eg., by car, bus or train to Sydney); accommodation assistance in general set in line with standard University Halls of residence costs. Where these are not available, further consideration will be necessary. It is not standard practice to provide meals although in special circumstances a "one-off" may be agreed. (This would need consultation with your Program Leader and Jeremy Burdon before agreement.) Note also it is not usual for Honours students to be supported for attendance at meetings.

  • Field Work

    CSIRO students are entitled to the same standard of accommodation that staff travelling on a normal field trip would expect. Reasonable food and incidental expenses will also be met but must be acquitted by receipts. If necessary an advance on this support can be arranged.

ii. Summer Students

    The process involved in establishing and advertising CPBR Summer Studentships ensures that most of the necessary administrative, space and laboratory space commitment clearances have been carried out as a matter of course. However, there are a number of points to highlight.

  • Funding

    Staff are encouraged to obtain funding for these positions from external sources. However, this should be discussed with Jeremy Burdon and relevant Program Leaders (Randy Bayer, Tony Brown, Jim Croft and Bob Makinson) before approaches are made. Furthermore, all applications for external support must go through Jeremy Burdon and be agreed to before submission.

  • Vehicle Use

    Summer students are eligible to use PI vehicles after approval has been obtained in the same way for Honours, Graduate Diploma, MSc. and PhD Students.

  • Reports and Seminar Presentation

    As part of their training, all Summer Students are required to provide a brief report (circa 1-2 pages) on their work and activities by the end of their tenure. As these students often disperse widely after completion, it is the supervisor's responsibility to ensure completion of the report before the end of the studentship. Summer students are also required to present their work in a 15-20 mini-seminar that will be arranged for mid-February.

[Jeremy Burdon and Judy West]

5.3 Pest Management in the Centre/Herbarium

Bob Makinson and Jo Palmer attended a two day follow up workshop on Pest Management at the Australian Museum, Sydney, 29-30th October. The workshop was a forum for discussion on how Pest Management was progressing in our various institutions and any problems we were having. There were also sessions dealing with mould and rodents, not covered in the previous workshop that Jo attended in 1996.

The strategy is to set up an Integrated Pest Management Program (IPMP) that emphasises prevention of insects entering our buildings, rather than relying on toxic chemicals to kill them once they are inside. The program involves having good cleaning regimes, secure building construction and regular general maintenance, controlled environmental conditions, methods like freezing for incoming materials to reduce the accidental introduction of insects into the building, also monitoring specific sites inside the building to ascertain where problem insect areas, if any, exist.

The IPMP that we have so far put in place for the Centre is working well. Monitoring of insects in the buildings on both sites is by use of sticky traps (small cardboard tunnels with a sticky floor and a food tablet attractive to key pests and detritus species) tucked away in good insect hiding places and near entry/exit areas. Hygiene arrangements include freezing all plant material coming into the herbarium for 48hrs (Australian origin) or 7 days (overseas origin). The building is regularly cleaned, the temperature is controlled and the relative humidity reasonably stable. There have been no major outbreaks of insects harmful to the collection over the last 2 years but there are the usual occurrences of silverfish, cockroaches and carpet beetles and a few other creepy crawlies. To keep these general pests under control we have an annual fumigation using Pyrethrin based chemicals (non-toxic to mammals). The fumigation consists of a mist as an initial knockdown of insects, followed by a surface spray around skirting boards etc and a dust in voids areas such as the ceiling cavities, to kill crawling insects.

This year we will be having one such 'fumigation' on the 24th December on the CSIRO site, (late December or early next year on the ANBG site). A notice with more details will be sent out closer to the time. The Building will need to be vacated from 3pm, 24th December and will be safe to enter by the next working day, 30th December. It is actually safe to enter the building 48 hours after the fumigation has taken place (Monday, 28 December).

It is important for everyone to report any insect occurrences/infestations found in the Centre to Jo, Joan or Bob and we will deal with them. In the event of finding live or dead insects in herbarium specimens, please put the specimens in a herbarium box and alert the Loans Staff (Helen, Ros or Anthony) that the box needs immediate freezing. At this time of year Bogong Moths are a particular problem, as they are an excellent food source for pest beetles and cockroaches; if you see dead moths, please pick them up and put them in the bin.

[Jo Palmer and Bob Makinson]

5.4 Jim Grimes Seminar - Thursday, 10 December

Dr Jim Grimes, a legume systematist from the Herbarium Melbourne Botanic Gardens will visit the Centre 9-11 December, and give a seminar on:

    "Heterchrony, inflorescence morphology, and phylogeny in Ingeae."

Jim will be accompanied by Dan Murphy, a student working on Acacia with Jim and Pauline Ladiges.

[Judy West]

6. Other News

6.1 Heads of Herbaria Meeting - CHAH

The CHAH meeting held 10-12 November at the ANH consisted of a very full program of agenda items. The meeting was preceded by a one day Retreat which provided a very useful venue for open discussion on many items.

We will summarise the main items relating to the Centre to come from the CHAH meeting for the next CPBR News and once the minutes are completed.

[Judy West]

7. Diary of Events/Activities

1 Dec
NHT Stakeholders Meeting
Judy West

1 Dec
ARC-RTCC Meeting
Jeremy Burdon

1 Dec
Volunteer's Lunch
Annual Volunteer's lunch to be held at the Gardens

2 Dec
ABRS Advisory Committee
Judy West

2 Dec
Program A Discussion Group
Map Room - 10:30-11:30.

5-7 Dec
Divisional Retreat
Jeremy Burdon

5-20 Dec
Indonesian Trip
Lyn Craven Lyn will visit the Herbarium in Bogor to continue systematics studies of the Syzygium genus. He will also discuss ways in which botanical research information can be disseminated in Indonesian-language journals to cover a wide circulation within country.

6-12 Dec
John Connors and Brendan Lepschi
Coastal NSW to Qld border chasing Angophora and eucalypts.

7-8 Dec
Weeds Workshop
Judy West, Jim Croft, Richard Groves

9 Dec
ANU Bioinformatics Workshop
Jim Croft

9-11 Dec
Jim Grimes, University of Melbourne
Jim will give a Seminar on "Heterchrony, inflorescence morphology, and phylogeny in Ingeae" on Thursday, 10 December in the Seminar Room.

15 Dec
Executive Committee Meeting
Centre Executive Committee
Map Room - 2:00 pm.

16 Dec
Centre Get-together
Staff and invited Stakeholders
The Centre will host a get together for staff and stakeholders from 4:30 pm.

21 Dec
Centre Board Meeting
Map Room - 10:00 am-3:00 pm

24 Dec
Fumigation of ANH The herbarium buildings will be fumigated on Thursday, 24 December at 3:00 pm. The buildings can be reoccupied from Monday, 28 December.

4 Jan - 26 Feb

CPBR News is compiled by Suzie Dietrich (suzie.dietrich@pi.csiro.au),
Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research

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Placed here 15 November, 1999 by Andrew Lyne
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