Why Have a News Sheet?
This sheet is experimental, in the sense that it may or may not become a regular and permanent fixture. It is in response to comments by some staff that there is either too little information being distributed by management about events in the Herbarium and Services program area, or that there are too many little disparate bits of information that should be gathered together. This sheet is not intended to replace either the Monday Morning tea-room announcements, or the tea-room noticeboard, or normal email circulars.
Continuation of this sheet does of course depend on you (staff and volunteers) feeding in items of interest - particularly advance notice of events (field trips, visitors, etc). In the first instance, these should be sent (if possible as concise email messages) to either ANDREW LYNE or BOB MAKINSON (firstname.lastname@example.org).
HerbNews (and the title remains provisional!) will be produced electronically and with a limited number of paper copies.
Some of our regular Volunteers are off on holiday at present, but most will be returning in March. Others have continued to work through the summer period.
As happens periodically, the Herbarium is looking at ways to increase recruitment of volunteers to work in the vascular Mounting and Cryptogamic packaging areas, to help keep up with the inflow of material for processing. A recruitment drive will be planned over the next month or so and launched in March or April.
The Curator (Bob Makinson) has indicated that a long-foreshadowed review of Volunteer involvement in the Herbarium and Services area will be held soon, probably in April. Input will be invited from staff, unions, and Volunteers on the two sites, to examine how the various programs are working, and to what degree they are meeting the expectations of the various interested parties. Herbarium Volunteers are particularly welcome to raise issues that they want addressed, through Faye Davies or direct to Bob Makinson.
The Intern Program finished with a blaze of publicity, mainly due to Dave Mallinson's Muehlenbeckia discovery. We gained coverage in the Canberra Times, the Chronicle, and at time of writing it looks like we will have segments on WIN, PRIME, and David Young's radio and TV spots.
Unversities represented this year are: ANU, UNE, UNSW, U of Queensland, U of Sydney, U of Wollongong, and Macquarie. This year we had two international participants. Surangraj (Anne) Indhamusika has been seconded to the program from the Queen Sirikit Botanic Gardens in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and will follow the Internship by spending a month working with the Orchid Research Unit. Valeria Kivshar, a graduate of the Kharkov State University, Ukraine, has recently arrived in Australia and has previously been assisting us as a Mountie.
Also this year, we have two ANBG Living Collections staff members seconded into the program full time: Dave Mallinson (Horticulturalist), and Julie Paul (Records Officer). We see their participation as being a very practical contribution to maintaining a strengthening links between the CPBR and the ANBG; Living Collections clearly sees it the same way. During the internship, Dave and Julie have been concentrating their work on vouchers and identification problems relating to living plants at the ANBG.
So What Did the Interns Achieve?
* Several thousand specimens of incoming exchange sorted and put-away;
* The 1940s Wallace collection processed and put-away (Gromit's not yet done);
* New edition of the Annotated Plant Identification Bibliography proof-read, edited, and produced;
* Several dozen abstracts of recent CPBR papers marked up for posting on the Internet;
* Field searches conducted, and paper prepared, on distribution and ecology of Muehlenbeckia `Tuggeranong';
* Field assistance to CPBR Fire Ecology Unit, and to Linum host/pathogen survey;
* Field assistance with collecting for the Public Reference Herbarium.
* Determination on Living Collections voucher specimens and lots of problems solved.
* c. 1300 lichens ordered for incorporation;
* c. 650 mosses and lichens annotated with new determinations;
* c. 400 cross-reference cards for hepatic exsiccate;
* Processed and distributed Fascicle (Part) 14 of Moss Exsiccate set;
* Collection and some processing of Australian National Insect Collection fungal donation.
Andrew Lyne, who has partial responsibility for developing aspects of the ANBG and CPBR Web sites, advises that he has put together a WWW page entitled "A Virtual Field Trip - Plant Collecting in Western New South Wales". It deals specifically with a Dec. 1995 trip by Andrew and Stuart Donaldson (ANBG)in the Broken Hill area. Andrew says: "It is basically done. I need to scan in some Eucalyptus gillii slides and am thinking about scanning in some herbarium specimens of the exciting plants (like the Ptilotus spp., etc.). Anyway, have a look and let me know what you think. There is no link to it as yet, so you'll need to type in - http://www.anbg.gov.au/projects/field-trips/western-NSW/western-NSW.html
While you're at the Web site, check out some of the other recent additions (feral Interns, etc).
New Species Discovered near Tuggeranong
In early January, Dave Mallinson (ANBG Horticulturalist, currently on secondment to the Herbarium Interns program), collected a specimen of an unusual Muehlenbeckia (family Polygonaceae) near Pine Island, on the Murrumbidgee near Tuggeranong. Bob Makinson (who co-authored the Flora of Australia treatment of Polygonaceae) has confirmed that the species is new, albeit with similarites and probable affinity to one Australian species (M. axillaris) and one from New Zealand (M. astonii). Dave and Bob will co-author a short taxonomic paper naming the new species, and the whole group of Interns are co-authoring one on distribution and conservation status.
Surrey Jacobs and Karen Wilson (both from NSW Herbarium) visited in early February. We took them out to see the new Pine Island Muehlenbeckia (Karen being a Polygonaceae expert); Surrey also kindly assisted with some grass identifications in the Herbarium.
News from Elsewhere
Directorship of RBG Sydney has been the subject of a round of applications and interviews in recent months, since the retirement of the previous Director (Prof. Carrick Chambers). The NSW Government now appears to have put off a permanent appointment for the time being, and we understand that an announcment has been made that Acting Director Frank Howarth will be continuing in that role for the remainder of this year, with a brief to revise the Corporate Plan and look at management restructuring.
Staff Movements, Absences, etc.
Ian Telford, having returned to work over January to assist with the Interns Program, has now resumed his Long-Service leave, and will be back with as at about Easter time.
Sara York's position as Herbarium Registrar and IBIS databaser extraordinaire, continues vacant; filling of this position is a matter of urgency, but has been complicated by the need to consider and interview internal applicants from other sections of Environment Australia (formerly ANCA). We hope for a resolution very soon.
Curator, Australian National Herbarium
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