Issue 23: November 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. Promotion, Practice and Partnerships - Fourth National Conference, Australian Network for Plant Conservation

Several CPBR and ANBG staff attended the ANPC’s fourth conference in Albury, 25-29 November. We attended the cryptogamic sessions, and a few others. This is therefore our view on a part of the conference only.

The talks we heard were introduced with very pertinent and witty comments by Tim Entwistle as MC and his comments proved a very good preparation for the thought-provoking talks. Bob Makinson of CPBR set the scene with a talk about the state of cryptogam research now and things we can do to build on and improve this in the future, particularly re training. Tom May of Melbourne Herbarium followed by detailing FungiMap, the very successful mapping scheme which is a partnership between research scientists and the community. David Eldridge, from Land and Water Conservation NSW, then spoke on the ecological importance of cryptogams, particularly in arid and semi-arid areas and some of the consequences of disturbance to these organisms. Katrina Jensz of Environment Australia drew on and echoed the preceding talks to reiterate the importance of cryptogams in the environment and detailed the state of legislation to protect them.

These interconnected talks were much quoted during the remainder of the conference and particularly during the discussion group which aimed to consolidate the ideas presented in the talks and to formulate recommendations for future cryptogam-related work to which ANPC could provide a valuable contribution. The major points to arise were the necessity for a list of Rare Or Threatened Australian Cryptogams (ROTAC) and the need to educate non-cryptogamists about the importance of cryptogams in the environment. There are already legal obligations imposed on people or organisations when dealing with rare or threatened plants or animals, so the creation of a ROTAC list would have cryptogams fitting simply into an established legislative framework. The importance of public education is obvious and through its members (representing a wide variety of organisations) ANPC would provide an extensive network through which to both disseminate educational cryptogamic information and receive queries or feedback.

On Sunday there were many workshops dealing in some way with conservation or rehabilitation of and threats to plants, habitats and organisms. We helped the presenters of the two workshops specifically dealing with cryptogams. Heino assisted Tom and other FungiMap coordinators with the session on FungiMap. As well as introducing some people to the world of fungi, this session saw a number of people volunteering to participate in FungiMap and also enabled existing FungiMap recorders to get together and compare notes, swap ideas and get various fungal questions answered. Judith assisted David with his sessions on Soil Crusts. David led two excellent workshops where he gave an overview of the lichen and bryophyte organisms that are part of soil crusts and helped people understand soil crusts and to grasp the major differences separating the cryptogamic groups so that participants will know where to begin and what they are looking at when next they look at soil crusts.

Throughout the workshops and discussion sessions, formal and social, the questions and discussions generated again proved the immense interest and desire for more knowledge that exists in the community for cryptogams and their role.

[Judith Curnow & Heino Lepp]

2. Research Groups

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 Board meeting

The next Centre Board meeting will be held on Wednesday, 22 December. This meeting will be mainly concerned with the new Centre Agreement. Board members will be invited to join staff for a Christmas lunch at 12:30 pm.

[Suzie Dietrich]

5.2 Centre Christmas Lunch

The Centre will hold a Christmas lunch on Wednesday, 22 December from 12:30 pm under the old oak tree. Various Chicken Kebabs, Vegetarian Kebabs and Salads, Christmas Cake and Fruit Punch will be served at a cost of $6.00 inclusive.

Please let Joan Graham know if you wish to attend by Wed 15th December and please also pay by that date to allow purchases to be made in good time.

Volunteers are also required to help with food preparation on Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22. Please let Joan know if you can help.

All Staff Welcome

[Joan Graham]

5.3 Fumigation - 24th December

Fumigation of the Herbarium will begin on Christmas Eve. Please make a clear space on benches under windows as these areas will be given a burst of surface spray. Also please leave cupboard doors and drawers slightly open to allow penetration of fumigant. Joan Graham will be delivering plastic bags and sheeting to cover sensitive equipment prior to fumigation.

All staff should vacate the building by 2.00pm and head home for a


The Herbarium will be reopened on Monday, 27 December from 12:00 noon.

[Joan Graham]

5.4 Centre Agreement

The Centre Agreement Working Group identified issues that needed updating or attention and a draft of the proposed new Agreement was prepared and sent to Pat Walsh (CSIRO PI Commercial Manager). We have had a few sessions with Pat discussing various options and wording. Pat then incorporated our changes and other matters such as GST, and then we agreed on a version to distribute to the CSIRO and EA legal officers for approval. We hope to have the final document ready for signature prior to the next Board meeting to be held 22 December 1999.

[Suzie Dietrich]

5.5 2000 Student Botanical Internship Program

As predicted in the last issue of CPBR News, the trickle of Internship applications turned into an (albeit minor) flood once the deadline for applications approached and passed. We have now offered places to 16 potential candidates, with a 17th presently in the works. The number of applications was well down on last year’s record numbers, but (at least on paper), the quality of applicants seems to be reasonably good. Geographically speaking, applicants for 2000 are less far flung than for 1999, with most from the ACT (8), and the remainder from NSW (4, maybe 5) and Victoria (4).

The provisional work program for 2000 has been completed, and is presently being distributed. Some minor amendments remain to be attended to, primarily in relation to the Jervis Bay field trip. The coming weeks will see discussions as to how best to attack the legion of Intern jobs which have been identified - we will try and fill all requests, but this is largely dependent on Intern numbers. Invariably, some drop out before the start of the course, and this may affect how many willing pairs of hands we can deploy to the salt mines come January.

One Intern, Sue Fletcher, will be starting early, for one week in December (8th - 13th). She will be working initially with Faye in the mounting area, followed by a stint with Anthony Whalen and rounding the week off with Helen and Ros in Loans.

[Brendan Lepschi]

6. Other News

6.1 ‘Science meets
Parliament Day’

Last week, I attended an event organised by the Federation of Australian Scientific & Technological Societies (FASTS) at Parliament House. The general aim of the exercise was to raise the profile of Australian Science with Federal parliamentarians. The participants were mainly representing scientific societies and Tim Entwisle, Mike Crisp and I were there representing systematics and as members of the Australian Systematic Botany Society (ASBS).

The event was organised so that after some briefing sessions we met with parliamentarians in pairs. It was enthusiastically supported by scientists (174) - many very senior - and parliamentarians (140). From the general feedback it appears that the whole exercise was extremely successful and there is interest in it being repeated in future. There was some good media coverage. One of the main aims was to have the politicians see that support for science and technology is an investment in Australia's future. I met with a Western Australian Liberal Senator (past NFF member) and had some very interesting discussions about the importance of science in discovery and the need for Australia (and farmers!) to gain the benefits of our work. I managed to weave a few points in about systematics and the economic and cultural importance of the information we provide in various forms for a diverse range of users.

It seems that most members of parliament were interested and receptive. One of the most valuable outcomes was the establishment of individual points of contact that can be used in the future when politicians need advice, and when we need to lobby for particular issues.

[Judy West]

  1. Diary of Events/Activities




Details (relate to projects)

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.

29 Nov – 2 Dec

‘When Worlds Collide’ Conference, Armidale

Lyn Craven, Lina and Yuli

Conference on biogeography and history of Malesian region.

Nov 1999 -
end of Feb 2000

Visiting Scientist

Dr Brian Murray

Dr Murray, University of Auckland, 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.

5-10 Dec 1999

Dampier 300 Conference, Perth

Judy West, Rogier de Kok, Bernard Pfeil, Lina

Systematics meetings of ASBS and SASB.

11 Dec 1999

ABRS Advisory Committee meeting, Perth

Judy West


22 Dec 1999

Centre Board Meeting

Centre Board

10 am – 12:30 pm. Map Room.

22 Dec

Centre Christmas Lunch

All Centre Staff

Christmas B-B-Q. To be held at 12:30pm under the Oak Tree.

Dec 1999 –

Dec 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 a NSF Post-doctoral Scholarship.

17-31 Jan 2000 –


Overseas Visit to Nairobi, Kenya and Los Angeles, USA

Dr Tony Brown

Tony will be attending the IPGRI workshop in Kenya and the National Academy of Sciences Colloquium in the US.

1 Feb 2000 -
March 2000

Visiting Scientist

Dr Ulla Carlsson-Graner

Umea University of Sweden. Dr Graner is involved in a continuing research project with Jeremy Burdon and Pete Thrall on host pathogen spatial interactions. She will visit the Centre for 5 weeks and will focus on computer simulation modelling.

1-14 Mar 2000

Visiting Scientist

Professor Bruce McDonald

ETH Zurich. Continuation as GRDC Visiting Fellow to look at project with Jeremy Burdon on barley-scald.

July 2000 –
Jun 2001

Visiting Scientist

Professor Brenda Wingfield

Uni of Pretoria, South Africa. Expert in application of molecular techniques to fungal systematics. Will spend one year sabbatical at the Centre working with Jeremy Burdon on systematics of the Uredinales (rust fungi).