Issue 25: February 2000



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.

Suzie Dietrich: ph (02) 6246 5533; fax (02) 6246 5249; email:



1. Herbarium and Services

1.1 2000 Student Botanical Internship Program

The 8th Student Botanical Internship Program has now finished, having culminated with the 'graduation' ceremony at the ANBG on Thursday, 24 February with presentations of certificates made by Dr Sharman Stone (MP Parliamentary Secretary) and book vouchers kindly donated by the Friends of the ANBG.

It has been another successful year for this program with significant advances in the herbarium and other areas as a result. Sixteen Interns completed the course this year, having received botanical training in exchange for their voluntary labour on a variety of tasks in and around the Centre. The last few weeks of the Program saw the Interns grappling with competing deadlines as they endeavoured to have their seminar and dummy job application ready on time, as well as participating in a fieldtrip and preparing for job 'interviews'. Despite these pressures, all 16 survived and successfully completed the Program.

We would like to thank all the students involved for their support and wish them all the best for their futures and chosen careers. Thanks also to all the Centre and ANBG staff who helped the program be the success that it was.

The next few days will be occupied with an evaluation of this year's Program from an organisational point of view. Watch this space for a potted review of the 2000 Program in next month's CPBR News.

[Brendan Lepschi and Jim Croft]

1.2 Hall of Shame

This was the first multi-day overnight field trip run for the interns and it would not have been your typical field trip if everything went smoothly. The following are some outstanding examples of organisational and performance excellence during the 2000 Summer Botanical Intern Program field trip. An entire cohort of interns has been irreparably scarred:

Anthony Whalen – for rounding up and stressing the need for the field dissecting microscopes for the interns field trip, then leaving them locked in his drawer in Canberra.

Brendan Lepschi – for extorting laptop computers out of all and sundry for use of interactive keys by interns on the field trip, then leaving all the computers locked in the store cupboard in Canberra. Brendan wishes to share the blame for this with Anthony, because he thought Anthony had packed them.

Julie Paul – for opting to shop, cater and cook for two dozen people. The lengths to which some people will go in order to get out of databasing specimens knows no bounds. And for believing that mountains of extreme cuisine served by candlelight would make her boss overlook this fact.

Bob Makinson – for deciding to collect a few fragments from a specimen tree in the neatly manicured Kangaroo Valley Show Ground, pulling off half the crown in the process, and collecting c. 50 replicate specimens to reduce the bulk, then trying unsuccessfully to hide the remaining mountain debris in an acre of neatly manicured lawn.

Jim Croft – from warning people to get out of the way of where he was going to throw the weighted rope to pull down a tree branch and then throwing the lump of iron into the crowd behind him. Having witnessed this exhibition, a string of interns in succession believed this was the proper way to do things and proceeded to fling the weight backwards over their shoulders.

Anthony Whalen – for bringing a single fire wardens hard hat (what if the herbarium had burned down while left unprotected for the week Anthony?) in a token nod in the direction of Occupational Health and Safety, when he really should have brought 20.

Bob Makinson – for interpreting the ecology and dynamics of a Eucalyptus maculata forest with a 20 minute lecture in the blazing sun, based on a single tree in the middle of a 40 acre paddock.

Hieno Lepp – for stepping into and grovelling in the gutter at every roadside opportunity in search of rotting vegetable matter and other scraps, giving interns a less than up-market impression of botanical behaviour.

Bob Makinson – for trying to convince interns that the Proteaceae was the pinnacle of evolution and the most economically and socially important plant group on the planet by bribing them with macadamia nuts.

Anthony Whalen – for persistently trying to convince interns that grasses, sedges, rushes and non-petaliod monocots in general are interesting plants, things of beauty and a joy forever.

Brendan Lepschi – for sneaking out during Anthony's rave about bracts, glumes, lemmas, sheaths and auricles to visit the local op-shop in search of mid last century kitsch. Only to find it was closed for the day.

Bob Makinson – for asking Jim Croft to drive a bus-load of people to the beach, and then driving off to the surf without him.



1.3 The Harden Landcare Project

Last year the Centre was involved in a successful application to Bushcare by the Harden Murrumburrah Landcare group for funding to help revegetate portions of land cleared last century for agriculture. National Heritage Trust funds have been provided for site preparation, fencing and re-establishment of woody vegetation cover. The Centre's involvement in this project is to use the resources of our library and herbarium collections to reconstruct what the flora of the area might have been prior to land clearing; with approximately 2% of the natural vegetation remaining - this is going to be a bit of a challenge - there is little out there to ground truth against.

The project involves scouring the database for collections from within the study area, surrounding the study area, or referring to places within the study area, and extracting details of life form, habitat, and associated species from the herbarium label data. A recommended planting list of species that are likely to have occurred in a range of habitats in the area will be derived from this general species list.

Pennie Hohnen is extracting the data from the database and a team of five herbarium interns are collating and interpreting these data and incorporating information from the literature and published reports. Suzanne Prober's previous work in the Centre on the White Box woodlands has been extremely useful here, both from her written reports and from her voucher specimens available through the herbarium and database.

Judy West, Pennie Hohnen and Jim Croft visited the Harden/ Murrumburrah area to meet with representatives of the Harden Landcare group to describe the methodology, progress so far, and present interim species lists. Feedback was positive and a significant amount of local information was provided, to be incorporated into the species lists. Pennie, Jim, Murray and five Interns visited Harden again to inspect past revegetation sites and sites for possible revegetation in the future. Several more return visits are planned.

The intensive use of herbarium information in this project is being proposed as a model for other Bushcare regeneration projects, a practical example of the utility, value and importance of the collections of herbaria such as the Australian National Herbarium.

[Jim Croft]


1.4 The Flower-free Zone

Things went a bit quiet over the Christmas-New Year break on the fern front as things coasted along and the foot has not really found the accelerator again yet. Jim Croft found himself incarcerated on Norfolk Island for a couple of weeks and in an attempt to stop himself going stir crazy attempted to collect every fern on the island. Collections were made of all bar a few of the 40 something species known from the island, and a checklist of the species has been placed on the web:

No new records were found after circumnavigating and traversing the island several times – the fern flora of the island can be considered well known.

A start has been made on preparing a fern walk for the ANBG, starting at the Visitor Information Centre and culminating with the Public Display Glasshouse currently under development. There are plans to intensify the planting in some areas to assist interpretation of the ferns and their allies.

The Herbarium interns provided most welcome assistance in a major space creation exercise and reshuffle of the compactus on the ANBG site. The wood blocks were moved from under-bench shelves back to the CSIRO site, a mountain of cryptogams awaiting processing were moved out of the compactus to where the wood blocks were, thereby enabling significant expansion space for the ferns, the gymnosperms, the fungi and the collection of the Australian Cultivar Registration Authority. This has unfortunately removed a major impediment to incorporating the large pile of ferns mounted by the volunteers last year and the excuse not to do anything with them.

The ANBG Living Collections have provided a large list of fern voucher specimens that require identification or a positive confirmation of identity. Over the next month, these specimens will be located and determined, enabling the herbarium and living collections database to be updated and plant labels to be engraved.

[Jim Croft]

2. Research Groups

2.1 Summer Student Scholarships

This year the Centre hosted three summer students, Daniel Falster, Rose Andrew and Catherine Gallagher who respectively worked with Brad Murray, Joe Miller and Rogier de Kok. Below is a short account of what each of the students achieved.

Daniel Falster

Daniel Falster came from the University of New South Wales to study patterns of community structure and rarity in open-forest vegetation with Brad Murray. Dan spatially mapped over 5000 individuals from 39 woody plant species in 8 communities, and assessed their abundance and distribution. His major findings were: (1) Communities were structured in terms of their abundance and distribution, with far more rare than common species in rank-abundance and rank-distribution curves; (2) There was a high degree of consistency for species that were rare in terms of abundance to be rare for distribution; (3) Relationships between abundance and distribution were significantly positive at a number of spatial scales, with spatial patterning in the form of clumping modifying abundance-distribution relationships from an expected null model (that assumes a positive correlation).

[Brad Murray]

Rose Andrew

Rose Andrew, a student at ANU, worked with Joe Miller on the molecular phylogentics of the Australian Acacias. Rose sequenced a 850 bp chloroplast region in over 50 taxa. This data was used to develop a phylogenetic framework of this group which suggests that the taxonomic groupings presently used are not natural entities. Further sampling of this large, 950 species, group and further sequences will be needed to fully understand these relationships.

[Joe Miller]

Catherine Gallagher

Catherine Gallagher from Melbourne University worked with Rogier de Kok over the summer on the leaf variation within the Pultenaea juniperina species complex. This variation was reported in the past to correlate with different polyploidy (2n, 3n, 4n) levels. Different techniques were used (molecular and morphological) to study this variation on a large scale (TAS, Vic. & NSW) and a smaller scale (a series of populations in one valley).

[Rogier de Kok ]

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.


3.2 The International Plant Names Project

The IPNI website and database portal ( is due to be formally launched and announced to the public this month. It is already visible and being tested on the web at this address and facilities have been provided to search on plant names at a variety of levels, author names, publications and plant collectors. All are encouraged to give the database a try and let us know what you think of the interface and the data. Currently work is underway standardising the data between the three contributing data sets in Canberra, Kew and Harvard and developing interfaces for remote data contributions and remote editing. IPNI editors are being appointed and an IPNI Editorial meeting will be held in Canberra from the 8 – 14 March and representatives from both Kew and Harvard will attend. This meeting will provide a valuable opportunity for the international team of database designers, programmers and editors to sit down together and to plan and start the next phase of the project.

Discussions will involve integration of the editing tasks with the computer applications and data management tools. As part of the preparations for the launch and the editorial meeting, John Hook has been removing duplicate entries from our plant name table and Greg Whitbread has been preparing fresh exports of the APNI data.

[Jim Croft]


4. Education and Communication


5. General Centre Matters

5.1 Welcome to Louisa Lo

Louisa Lo has started as the Centre Admin Assistant effective 2 February 2000. Louisa will work in the front office from 9:00 am-2:00 pm daily. Welcome Louisa.

[Suzie Dietrich]


5.2 National Research Priorities

Minister Hill has approved the development of criteria for National Biodiversity Research Priorities. Lyndel Sutton has been seconded from EA (Biodiversity Convention and Strategy Section, Biodiversity Group) to work with Judy West (as BDAC member and convenor of BDAC National Research Priorities Working Group) and other BDAC members and CSIRO scientists to develop a set of national biodiversity research priorities and strategies. Lyndel will be at the Centre from 14 Feb-14 April and is located in Jo Palmer’s room. Welcome Lyndel.

[Suzie Dietrich]

5.3 Centre Agreement

The new Centre Agreement is now before both Ministers, Minchin (CSIRO) and Hill (EA), for final approval. We should have the final contract ready for signature very shortly. Peter Cochrane (Director National Parks) and Colin Adam (as acting CEO, CSIRO) will sign the Agreement.

The Centre is planning to host a small signing ceremony to celebrate the next 10 years of the Centre’s existence. We were aiming for the 9 March but the ministerial approval process seems to be taking longer than we expected and we may need to hold this at a later date.

[Judy West]


5.4 LIPI Senior Management Visit to Australia

About 30 senior Managers from the Indonesia Government (LIPI) visited the Centre and Herbarium on Thursday, 24 February from 2:00-4:00pm as part of a tour of CSIRO. They also visited Discovery, the molecular labs of Plant Industry and CSIRO Entomology. Their visit was part of a five year project of CSIRO and LIPI in training and commercialisation and project management practices.

[Suzie Dietrich]





5.5 Visit to Centre of Parliamentary Secretary for Environment and Heritage

Dr Sharman Stone (MP Parliamentary Secretary) visited the Centre and Herbarium on Thursday, 24 February to discuss some of our activities and outcomes from our research. It was a very interactive visit and it gave us a chance to familiarise her with the work of the Centre.

[Judy West]


6. Other News

6.1 ABRS Flora

The staff appointed to progress the restructure of ABRS have been announced.

Dr Bill Phillips, the interim ABRS director will start work on 1 March, and Dr Geoff Dyne will fill the interim support position a week or so later.

The colour proofs for Flora of Australia Volume 17A Grevillea were checked and returned. The Volume should be available around late March/early April.

[Cheryl Grgurinovic]


  1. Diary of Events/Activities




Details (relate to projects)

4 Jan – 25 Feb

Intern Program


1 Feb 2000 -
March 2000

Visiting Scientist

Dr Ulla Carlsson-Granér

Umeå University of Sweden. Dr Carlsson-Granér 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.

24 Feb

Intern Presentation


Intern presentation on 24 Feb. Dr Sharman Stone will present certificates to Interns at the Gardens after visiting the Centre.

24 Feb

LIPI Visitors


30 senior Managers from LIPI (Indonesia) will tour the Herbarium as part of their visit to CSIRO.

28 Feb

CHAH Workshop, Melbourne

Judy West

Workshop hosted by CSIRO Publishing on electronic publishing.

1-2 March

BDAC meeting, Melbourne

Judy West

Judy West will attend the Biodiversity Advisory Committee meeting in Melbourne.

3-4 March

Landcare 2000 Conference, Melbourne

Judy West

Judy West is presenting a paper at the conference on Biodiversity in the Agricultural Landscape.

8-14 March

IPNI Workshop

Jim Croft, Judy West, Kirsten Cowley, Brendan Lepschi & Greg Whitbread

Visitors from Kew and Harvard will visit the Centre to attend the IPNI Workshop..

12-13 April

Review of Programs C & D


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).