Issue 19: July 1999
News from the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian National Herbarium (CANB), for the information of CPBR and ANBG staff and volunteers.
CPBR News is produced monthly. If you wish to contribute, please email your suggestions to Suzie Dietrich, the coordinator.
This is your newsletter, please contribute news relating to the Centre.
Suzie Dietrich: ph (02) 6246 5533; fax (02) 6246 5249; email:

1. Herbarium and Services

1.1 Debbie Sunshine

Debbie Sunshine has joined the staff of the Herbarium on a part-time basis, for the next 3 or 4 months. Debbie is on a graduated return to work following an injury. For starters, she is helping out in Loans, doing the mail run, and cataloguing our map collection. Please make her welcome.

[Bob Makinson]

1.2 Specimen Identifications

We have completed a 230 specimen identification enquiry as part of our MOU with NSW National Parks, mostly collected around the Kosciuszko region. A number of interesting collections were turned up including a potential new species of Baumea (currently being confirmed at NSW herbarium). Some specimens will be incorporated into our collection. Payment will be received shortly for the work on this contract.

Further NPWS specimens are expected in the near future.

Work has started on an 80 specimen enquiry from CSIRO Wildlife and Ecology based at Alice Springs. They were subcontracted to do a survey of part of the Great Sandy Desert. The specimens have been sent out to the Herbarium's Group Curators for identification as a trial for the new system of identification of large batch contracts. These will then be returned to myself to collate the identifications into a final report.

[Anthony Whalen]

2. Research Groups

2.1 New Students

Welcome to three new students who have joined the Centre recently.

Anna Monro will be doing a PhD with Mike Crisp (ANU) and Randy Bayer and will be working on the ‘systematics of Australian Polygolaceae’.

Gudrun Wells and Emma Lumb are both Honours students. Gudrun will be working with Dave Rowell (ANU) and Andrew Young on ‘factors influencing the evolution of self-compatibility in Rutidosis leptorrhynchoides’.

Emma Lumb who will be working with Mike Crisp (ANU), Judy West and Andrew Young on ‘systematic studies in Podolobium ilicifolium’.

[Suzie Dietrich]

2.2 Bushfire ’99, in Albury, in mid winter!

Every two years there is a national fire conference in Australia. This biennium’s conference, "Bushfire ‘99", was magnificently hosted by Charles Sturt University in Albury. Three Centre members attended along with nearly 300 other delegates from 6 countries. It was a relatively large gathering.

This particular conference had a number of special features. The first was that a guest was invited from the USA, Professor Jim Clark. You may remember his seminar here last year. Jim specializes in understanding changes of vegetation, climate and fire-regime that have taken place in the USA over the last 10,000 years. His research is relevant to the problems of future climate change. His mathematical models excite Australian fire ecologists because they encapsulate ideas that are significant to our situation, even the present one. Of particular interest are those ideas relating to the need for temporal variability in fire regimes if we are to keep our biodiversity intact. Such ideas are being actively researched here too.

A second special feature of this meeting was that there was a series of review papers presented by specialists. These covered a wide range of topics which form the basis of a book currently being put together by Dr Ross Bradstock, of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, and co-editors. The book – to be called "Flammable Australia, the Fire Regimes and Biodiversity of a Continent" – should be available early next year. While the review papers will make a book, the written contributions of other presenters - students, managers and researchers - form a 430-page Proceedings of 59 papers. You can see these on the web at

[A. Malcolm Gill]

2.3 Overseas Trip for Tony Willis

Tony Willis has just returned from a month-long trip to the UK and the USA. In Britain, he spent time with Jane Memmott at Bristol University, analysing data which will be used to construct a quantitative ‘food web’ in communities invaded by Bitou Bush, to help answer questions about the impact of environmental weeds on biodiversity. Using food webs to examine weed impacts is an exciting new approach because it enables quantification of the impact of the invader on native plants, their herbivores, the parasitoids of those herbivores and, significantly, the strength of the interactions between each of these different trophic levels. By contrast, the ‘traditional’ approach has been to focus on one trophic level - usually the plants - and interactions between trophic levels have been ignored, despite their key importance to the functioning of the community. Although the analyses are not yet complete (we’re still waiting for several of our parasitoid species to be identified), we hope to finalise the ‘number crunching’ in the next 2-3 weeks, before publishing our initial findings.

After Bristol, I spent a week at Imperial College at Silwood Park, exploring potential collaborative research projects with staff in the college and at CABI Bioscience (formerly the International Institute for Biological Control). An area of common interest is in the impact of biocontrol agents on non-target native species. CABI is clearly keen to interact more formally in this important and topical area: they suggested maintaining the momentum of our initial discussions, by visiting the Centre later in the year.

The impact of weed biocontrol agents on non-target native species was an unofficial theme of the conference that I attended in Bozeman, Montana. Associated with high-profile research in the USA on the negative impact of a biocontrol agent for weedy thistles on native North American thistles, there is increased awareness in the biocontrol community to demonstrate the safety of the discipline. This was evident at Montana, with a whole session devoted to ‘safety in biocontrol’, the session in which I presented a paper by myself, former CPBR summer student Kirsty McMaster, Jim Cullen and Richard Groves. The Bozeman meeting was very productive and emphasised the importance of including non-target impact studies in weed biocontrol programmes.

[Tony Willis]

3. Information Technology and Data Management

3.1 WWW Site

The URL for the Centre can be found at:

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

4. Education and Communication

5. General Centre Matters

5.1 National Biodiversity Month - September

The Centre will hold a series of seminars on biodiversity to mark National Biodiversity month to be held in September.

There will be four seminars held in consecutive weeks. The series is aimed at informing the public of some of the big issues around biodiversity and the role of science in biodiversity and ecological sustainability.

The series will be hosted by the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, with support from the Biodiversity Sector of CSIRO and Environment Australia. The seminars will take place in Discovery on CSIRO Black Mountain site at 4:00 pm.

September 1: Biodiversity: state of the Australian environment

What is biodiversity? Why is it important? What is happening to it and what of the future?

Speaker: Denis Saunders (CSIRO DWE)

September 8: Valuing biodiversity

Biodiversity provides us with goods and services as well as life-support. How do we develop an accounting system which values these goods and services?

Speaker: Steve Cork (CSIRO DWE)

September 15: Biodiversity and the agricultural landscape

Agriculture and biodiversity are seemingly incompatible, but elements of biodiversity are essential to agriculture and to ecosystem reconstruction for addressing landscape degradation.

Speakers: John Williams (CSIRO Land & Water) & Robert Lambeck (CSIRO DWE)

September 22: Biodiversity: journey into the unknown

How do we address the vast amounts of unknown biodiversity and how do we make conservation management decisions in the absence of detailed biological information?

Speakers: Judy West (CSIRO PI) & Chris Margules (CSIRO DWE)

6. Other News

6.1 Book Releases

The Vegetation of Tasmania, described in the last issue of CPBR News, is now available from ABRS for $60. Contact Annette Wilson on 6250 9417 if you would like to buy a copy.

The long-awaited Interactive Key to the Families of Flowering Plants of Australia has finally been released. Copies are available from CSIRO Publishing.

[Annette Wilson]

  1. Diary of Events/Activities
Date Event/Activity Who Details (relate to projects)
Mar - Aug  Visiting Scientist Ross Bradstock Working with Malcolm Gill
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.
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.
10-19 Aug HISCOM, Brisbane Jim Croft and Greg Whitbread Annual meeting of Herbarium Information Systems Committee
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 –

Aug 2001

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 – 

Feb 2000

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.