1. Herbarium and Services
1.1 The Flower-Free Zone
Over the past couple of months or so, Helen Hadobas and Ros Grace have been working with Jim Croft for one morning a week (stabilising on Thursdays at the moment) in an attempt to tidy up and curate the Pteridophyte collection. The ferns and their allies have been curatorially neglected over the past three decades - ferns are not a dominant landcover element of the Australian Flora and their systematics and taxonomy is complex and volatile. Fern taxonomists never agree, not just in Australia but globally, and species are always being moved from one genus to another and no-one can reach consensus on which genus belongs in which family. This is especially so for the tropical taxa and the Australian National Herbarium has a particularly rich collection from in and around Papua New Guinea, one of the most fern rich areas of the world. Much of our collection is unidentified, and taxa are fragmented and scattered across families and genera.
The recent publication of the Flora of Australia volume 48 containing the ferns and their allies provides a sound platform for curating the Australian taxa in the collection and there have been a number of recent revisions published in Blumea and Flora Malesiana that cover New Guinea and Indonesia. As well as starting the process of curating this important but neglected collection, this has been a training exercise in herbarium curation and plant identification for Helen and Ros. An introductory guide as to how to go about curation was prepared and this is now available on the Centre web pages at http://www.anbg.gov.au/projects/curation/. The first genus curated was Cheilanthes as there were a fair number of unidentified specimens, and Cheilanthes has a major focus on Australia and the genus does not go berserk overseas. Cheilanthes is now curated and Helen and Ros are now going to do Marsilea, possibly followed by Lastreopsis; like Cheilanthes, most of our collections of these genera are Australian.
The Cheilanthes exercise highlighted the difficulties of working with a scattered collection. Each time we thought we had finished, more material was found: several batches of pending put-aways, a huge indet pile, unmounted material, and various combinations of these. We have started a program of getting all the unmounted material (probably 40 boxes or more) mounted so they can be identified and put into the collection, starting with the unsorted and unidentified specimens, followed by the families we will be curating. The volunteer mounters are doing a great job working through this material; after 40 boxes, ferns may lose their novelty, but the effort is really appreciated.
The huge amount of unidentified and unincorporated material (30 boxes or more) has been pulled out of the collection and sorted into families along with the pending put aways and the easy groups have been sorted into genera. Some families and genera are relatively straight forward and these are being identified and put away as they are curated. Many are being ticked off, but it will not be long before we get bogged down in families like the tree ferns, Thelyperidaceae and Dryopteridaceae, all of which are very rich in New Guinea. A the very least, the goal is to get all our fern collections into a believable genus.
"By the year 2000, no fern will be without a family... or genus..."
For those interested in ferns and their allies, a page of ferns resources on the internet has been prepared on the Centre Web site at http://www.anbg.gov.au/projects/fern/. Of particular interest might be a link to David Nichols' "Ferns of the Canberra Region" at http://www.home.aone.net.au/byzantium/ferns/ which has descriptions and photographs of our regional ferns and their allies.
2. Research Groups
2.1 David Jones wins ASGAP 1999 Award
The ever modest David Jones has won the 1999 ASGAP Australian Plant Award (Professional Section) in recognition of his lifetime contribution to knowledge of the Australian flora.
..and he didn't even tell all his staff and colleagues.… Congratulations David!
2.2 EUCLID Workshops
We have managed to obtain a grant from the Bushcare Program of National Heritage Trust for operational expenditure associated with EUCLID II. Associated with that grant, we have been running focus-group workshops to gain community involvement and feedback concerning EUCLID I. The general idea is for us to have a better indication of usage of the whole package by community groups and to be able to take their comments to feed into the development and enhancement of EUCLID II.
The Eucalypt team of Ian Brooker, Andrew Slee and John Connors, and Judy West have run three workshops involving a range of community groups and facilitators in three different geographic areas. In each case we had a local facilitator who brought together appropriate people such as Landcare and Bushcare Coordinators, Society for Growing Australian Plants members, Greening Australia and Catchment Management Authority members. This worked extremely well since it meant we had participants with their own networks who could then disseminate information further.
In each case, after a demonstration and introductory talk about Eucalypts in general and specifics about the software program and eucalypt characters, the participants then worked individually or in pairs identifying a range of species. Some of this material was easy for them to work through and others much harder, some brought by the participants themselves and some collected by John or Andrew.
The first workshop was held in Canberra, May 5, facilitated by Sue Streatfield from Greening Australia with 9 participants. The second was in Shepparton, June 10, facilitated by Paul Ryan, Goulburn-Broken Catchment Management Authority with 10 participants and the third in Bathurst, 16 June, facilitated by Sue Wakefield of Charles Sturt University with 12 participants. We also had participants from our Bushcare colleagues: Kathy Tracy and Rod Harvey took part in the Canberra workshop; Rod also attended the Shepparton one and Susan Wright was an active participant in Bathurst.
Each of the workshops was successful with very active participation by all concerned and great enthusiasm for EUCLID. In order to obtain more structured feedback, we have developed an Evaluation Feedback Form and so far have had some helpful and constructive comments.
The major outcome from all of these workshops is that people need some guidance to get started. We have had discussions with one of the developers of the LucID software, Kevin Thiele, who has already developed the first phases of a brief on-line tutorial which runs as soon as you begin EUCLID. We will be testing this further and providing more feedback to Kevin.
Overall these workshops have been helpful to us and have provided some more guidance towards the development of EUCLID in the future. They have certainly been constructive in linking us to the wider network of community users. Apart from the time component it is an effective means of gaining uptake of our work in the wider community.
3. Information Technology and Data Management
3.1 WWW Site
The URL for the Centre can be found at: http://www.anbg.gov.au/cpbr
Please check regularly for new items of interest re Centre staff and activities.
3.2 Yes, the new amalgamated database is up and running
With Julie and Pennie as go-betweens between the Centre and Gardens’ users and the Oracle gurus (Greg and John), the inevitable glitches and teething problems are being solved. We meet each Thursday to keep this communication line open.
Many Centre staff are proficient and productive on New ANHSIR and have mastered the transition from the old Texpress and Ibis to Oracle. The more staff who access and/or enter data on New ANHSIR the greater the awareness of Centre needs.
Yes, we do have draft labels which Julie and Pennie are able to generate on the ANBG site. Final labels have been designed and the duplicate printing instructions are being worked out.
The Discoverer tool (an Oracle browser) allows Pennie to generate maps from the combined dataset. Discoverer also enables reports (both hardcopy and electronic files) to be downloaded for field trips and research publications.
Julie and Pennie have organised two training sessions which both have been well attended. The initial apprehension of the unknown (from previous Texpress and Ibis users) has been allayed.
ANBG Living Collections users do not all have access to the data entry screens, but a web label site is available to query (‘though still in the building stage).
Living Collections screens are being generated from the new database for field trips, although with the recent rush on collecting it might take a little while to get all records on and correct. Collectors PLEASE look through your books BEFORE you send them for databasing and make sure you have marked WHAT you collected, whether herbarium specimen, cuttings etc. This is the most common (and worst) error as it prevents a screen being created for the living collections. Apart from this, we’re moving forwards, a good direction.
For all those who missed "The Amalgamation Party" there will be another celebration when Final Labels are being produced. We have decided it’s Greg’s shout!!!
[Julie Paul and Pennie Hohnen]
3.3 New Loan List Screen
Now that the amalgamated herbarium specimen database is operational, a loan list screen is being created to report the contents of outgoing loans. It is a fairly simple screen which has been modelled on the previous version, and includes a printing option.
The loan list screen has been designed to maintain this function until a more fully-featured specimen processing and transaction module is developed to support the management of all movements of herbarium and ANBG Living Collection material to, from and within the Centre.
3.4 Centre Web Pages
The Centre Executive considers the Centre web pages to be a major and important component of the Centre's public presentation and is preparing material to update and enhance general program, project and other botanical information already on the site (http://www.anbg.gov.au/cpbr).
The appearance and arrangement of the information on the site as it stands has been almost entirely the work of Andrew Lyne. The amount of work and responsibility for maintaining a quality site of the diversity of ours is more than one person should be expected to handle and the Executive decided that in addition to the routine program and projects information already prepared, each program would be responsible for preparing a visually stimulating description of the work it is doing to augment and link to the information already there. We hope to be able to include information on the many projects that we are involved in that as yet do not have a page on the web. Staff are encouraged to develop personal pages describing themselves and the projects they are involved in.
To get the process underway, Program Leaders have been asked to get together information about their programs and a working group has been formed to attend to the details of making things happen once program and other information has been provided. At the moment the group is Jim Croft, Andrew Lyne, Pennie Hohnen, Murray Fagg and Suzie Dietrich. This group is practical rather than editorial and so far has been considering who will do what to get whatever information we have onto the web.
While each program will be responsible for the content of their area of the web site, the working group will assist with tasks that are not part of particular programs, or tasks that programs are not equipped to do. Suzie is responsible for compilation of general Centre information such as the official program and projects descriptions, staff contact lists, publication lists, the Centre Handbook and so on. Pennie has just completed an HTML course and will be marking up these and other pages for the web, ensuring that links are made to other appropriate information on the web, with assistance from Andrew. Once the pages are working, Andrew and Murray will place them on the web server for public consumption; Pennie will be able to do this too, once a number of technical issues are addressed. And Jim will lean on his shovel and nod approvingly from time to time.
A major factor in creating interesting web sites is the use of embedded and linked images. These take time to prepare, scan in and process. Murray has been talking with Paula Fitzgerald from the PI Visual Resources Unit about using their resources to help prepare some of these images. They have also been discussing the preparation of web pages based on posters, brochures and pamphlets prepared for the Centre.
We have registered the domain name 'cpbr.gov.au' and intend to change the address of the server to 'www.cpbr.gov.au' just as soon as we work out with the Environment Australia network guardians how to do it.
If you have any information you like to put on the web, see your Program Leader or one of the members of the working group.
4. Education and Communication
4.1 Communications Committee
The Communications Committee have met recently and progressed several items:
The Communications Committee has considered the recommendation from the 1998 external Centre Review which suggested that we develop a separate Communications Strategy. Since we have developed the Centre Strategic Plan further, and it incorporates information about communications adequately, the Communications Committee recommended to the Executive Committee that a separate Communications Strategy is unnecessary.
5. General Centre Matters
6. Other News
6.1 Vegetation of Tasmania
Vegetation of Tasmania, edited by J.Reid, R.Hill, M.Brown and M.Hovenden, is jointly published by ABRS, the University of Tasmania, Forestry Tasmania and the CRC for Sustainable Production Forestry.
The book will be available from ABRS, at a price to be announced.
An extract from the Preface reads: This book covers all major terrestrial vegetation types, as well as introducing the climate, geology, and general environment of Tasmania, the plant fossil record, endemism and conservation imperatives. The emphasis is ecological, but treatments vary according to the expertise and interest of the various authors. Tasmania is one of the few very significant land masses in the Southern Hemisphere that, if properly understood, provides clear insight into the history of a much larger part of the world.
7. Diary of Events/Activities
|Date||Event/Activity||Who||Details (relate to projects)|
|Mar - Aug||Visiting Scientist||Ross Bradstock||Working with Malcolm Gill|
|12 Jun - 12 Jul||Overseas Visit to UK and USA||Tony Willis
|Tony will visit the Univ. of Bristol, UK, to finalise the obligations of a research grant from the British Council and then attend the X International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds in Bozeman, Montana, USA.|
|5 Jul – 11 Aug||IPGRI Honorary Research Fellowship, Rome followed by IBC, St Louis.||Tony Brown||IPGRI workshop on In Situ conservation of agricultural biodiverity in Nepal. This will be followed by the IBC, St Louis, Keynote Symposium on Plant conservation Biology|
|13 Jul – 22 Aug||Overseas field work in Bogor||Lina Juswara||As part of her MSc studies, Lina will collect orchid samples in West Java and visit the Kebun Raya Botanic Gardens and Herbarium Bogoriense.|
|15 Jul||Biodiversity Sector, Canberra||Judy West and Jeremy Burdon||Component Leaders and Divisional Representatives meet to prepare material for submission of Sector Plan.|
|31 Jul – 8 Aug||International Botanical Congress – USA||Judy West, (24 Jul-8 Aug)Tony Brown, Randy Bayer, Pete Thrall, Curt Brubaker and Rogier de Kok||The IBC will be held in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Judy, Tony and Randy are symposium co-organisers, and, as with Pete, will present papers. Curt and Rogier will present posters. Judy will represent the ANH at the Nomenclature Section the week before.|
|10 Aug – 10 Oct||Visiting Scientist||Dr Tamas Pocs||Bryological visitor from Hungary to work with Heinar Streimann on liverworts.|
|18-19 Aug||ABRS AC, Canberra||Judy West|
|26 Aug||Centre Board meeting||Centre Board|
|29 Aug - 13 Sep||Overseas visit to Sweden||Jeremy Burdon||Jeremy will visit Sweden to continue collaboration with Prof Lars Ericson on host-pathogen coevolution.|
|Aug 1999 –
|Visiting Scientist||Dr Anita Davelos||Dr Davelos will work in our labs for two years with Jeremy Burdon on the interaction of host and pathogen mating systems in Melampsora-Linum. Dr Davlos has been awarded an NSF Post-doctoral Scholarship.|
|Sep 1999 –
|Visiting Scientist||Professor Don Les||Professor Don Les, University of Connecticut, will spend approx. 5 months sabbatical leave working with Randy Bayer on Gnaphalieae (Asteraceae) and seagrasses. Professor Les has recently won a Fullbright Senior Fellowship.|
|Nov 1999 -
end of Feb 2000
|Visiting Scientist||Brian Murray||Brian will work with Andrew Young on analysis of genetic structure in Metrosideros excelsa (a New Zealand tree species subject to habitat fragmentation) and the cytological analysis of rutidosis populations.|