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- CPBR News 7-

News from the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research and
Australian National Herbarium (CANB)

For the information of CPBR and ANBG staff and volunteers

August, 1998

1. Herbarium and Services

1.1 Botanical Services Officer

Brendan Lepschi has joined the Herbarium staff in the position of Botanical Services Officer (Professional Officer 2 grade).

Brendan will be heading up various service aspects of the Herbarium, including external enquiry services, the botanical input to the Plant Names databases, and maintenance of botanical and taxonomic information in the collections themselves. He will also be taking on much of the responsibility for organisation of the 1999 Interns Program.

Brendan is not entirely new to the Centre, having worked here (and in the CSIRO herbarium pre-merger) from 1992 to 1995, with Lyn Craven on Melaleuca.

Since then he has been on contract at the Western Australian Herbarium, as a consultant botanist. He has particular interests in Solanaceae, Melaleuca, and the introduced flora, among other things.

In addition to a range of scientific papers, he has published a number of independent works, including the widely reviewed "Tree of Liff", under the banner of Better Than You Publications.

[Bob Makinson]

1.2 Herbarium Registrar Position

It is my pleasure to announce that the selection for the Herbarium Registrar position has concluded and been approved by the Delegate. The successful candidate is Julie Paul from the ANBG Nursery who has been offered the position and has accepted. Congratulations Julie.

Julie has also worked in the ANBG Plant Records section, and acted as Herbarium Registrar from March to June last year, so she brings a wealth of experience to the position.

She will be working both in the Centre's Computer Room with Pennie Hohnen, and in the Herbarium on the ANBG site. Julie will be starting as Registrar on Monday, 7 September.

[Jim Croft]

1.3 Public Plant Identifications


IDs received 10
IDs determined 1

Inquiries: (eg botanical, horticultural questions)

Received 4
Answered 3


NPWS Comprehensive Regional Assessment work continues. Bob Makinson and I met with NPWS representatives to negotiate their upcoming requirements with regard to specimen identification. National Parks will be forwarding specimens to the Centre for confirmation over spring as they survey sites relating to R&E plants on the South Coast. One final batch of 50 specimens is expected as part of their Winter Survey.

[Anthony Whalen]

1.4 Loans

Several new loan requests were received in August. With the impending cutover of the old databases to the new Herbarium database, announced since the last newsletter, we have been databasing all these loans and printing loan lists, so that these loans will not be delayed by any holdups possibly eventuating from the database cutover.

Eight loans were sent and one more prepared in August. We have received 10 loans, including material for Brendan Lepschi (newly arrived) and Terena Lally (to arrive shortly), and another 12 boxes of Pultenaea for Rogier de Kok! About a quarter of the Daviesia loans were returned.

We plan to start returning or transferring Chris Puttock's loans and to deal with some of the other loans that have been waiting for return, in September.

[Helen Hadobas]

1.5 Volunteers

I'm happy to report that another six volunteers started this month.

Sarah Addis
Ted Beasley
Cynthia Beasley
Michael Maconachie
Nell Newman
Tony Wood

[Faye Davies]

1.6 Revised Structure and Functions in Herbarium and Services

Since the Review, the structure and functions of Herbarium & Services (CPBR Program C) has been reorganised. Instead of the old Curation Committee and the "Living Dead", we now have the following arrangement:

1. The HERBARIUM & SERVICES COMMITTEE (HSC, formerly "Curation Committee"). Meets approximately fortnightly.

    Convenor: Bob Makinson (Curator)
    Other members: Jo Palmer (Collections Management), Brendan Lepschi (Botanical Services Officer), Jim Croft (for Program D) and Heinar Streimann (Cryptogams).

    The HSC will deal with policy and management issues in the herbarium and services area, including task allocation, documentation of procedures, planning, and so on. It will also seek to have various other staff of Program C (and other programs and ANBG) attend from time to time to discuss issues, give reports, etc.

    Notice of HSC meetings, and draft agenda, will be emailed to Program C and other Centre staff beforehand. Summary Minutes will be issued afterwards. Any staff, Associates, or Volunteers of CPBR or ANBG are welcome to submit items for the HSC agenda, preferably through the Curator. These will be scheduled for discussion at next meeting where pre-existing business permits, otherwise the one following. Any CPBR or ANBG staff with an interest in agenda items is welcome to attend.

2. The CURATION GROUP (CG) meets on a variable schedule, 2-4 weekly.

    Convenor: Andrew Lyne.
    Attendance is voluntary, but encouraged: any staff or Associates with interests, expertise, curatorial tasks, or a role in curation of the herbarium collections, are welcome to attend.

    The CG is seen as primarily an ideas exchange and problem-solving forum for those directly involved in curatorial practice (mainly taxonomic, nomenclatural, and logistical issues). Temporary staff working on the collections are welcome. The CG may also undertake various skills development activities (eg mini seminars) as it decides.

    Meetings will be notified to allstaff@CPBR ahead of time. Where possible, please notify your agenda items to Andrew Lyne before meetings.

3. The BOTANICAL INFORMATION LIAISON GROUP (BILG, formerly the "Living Dead") meets monthly.

    Convenor: Andrew Lyne
    Attendance: Core group is Andrew Lyne, John Hook (Data), Julie Paul (Data), Tim Mulcahy (Nursery), Stig Pedersen (Plant Records) and Jan Wilson (Visitor Services). Others are welcome to attend on an as-needs basis; please contact Andrew re your proposed agenda items.

    BILG is a link group between ANBG Living Collections, ANBG Visitor Services, the Herbarium & Services Program, and the Data Program (D). Meetings will be advised to CPBR (Programs C, A, D only) unit leaders, and ANBG Unit Leaders, beforehand.

[Bob Makinson, Brendan Lepschi & Jo Palmer]

2. Research Groups

2.1 Honours Students

Over the next 10 months, the Centre will host two new Honours students, both with scholarships from the Weeds CRC and enrolled through Botany and Zoology, ANU: Julie Matarczyk should be familiar to most of us, while Peter Berentson should be a familiar face to many, having been an Intern several years ago and more recently, a regular volunteer.

Julie's project, supervised by Tony Willis and John Vranjic, will compare the effects of weed competition and herbicide application for weed control on the growth and population biology of Pimelea spicata, an endangered shrub threatened by environmental weeds.

Peter, also supervised by Tony Willis, will investigate the impact of a biological control agent on the growth of a native herb, Hypericum gramineum. The control agent, a mite, was introduced to Australia to biologically control Hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort) although it also seems capable of surviving on the indigenous H. gramineum, albeit at very low levels.

[Tony Willis]

3. Information Technology and Data Management

3.1 WWW Site

The URL for the Centre can be found at: http://www.anbg.gov/cpbr/

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

3.2 Plant Name Project Planning Meeting - Kew

A planning meeting for the international Plant Name Project (PNP) has been called at Kew at short notice to coincide with Taxonomic Databases Working Group (TDWG) workshop and symposium at Reading, UK. I have been given permission to leave on the 8th of September for 2 days at the first meeting and 5 days at the second. The PNP project is paying for this trip.

The PNP meeting has come about because the Harvard/Kew/Canberra consortium has been successful in its bid for a 3-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), and we need to map out in more detail how this will be used, how the proof of concept application will be deployed, what extra staff will be engaged and what developments will take place where. It is planned that the architecture developed for this project will be transferable to the Australian situation, enabling botanists in state herbaria to contribute to Australian Plant Name Index and hence to the PNP.

The TDWG meeting is on metadata and interoperability in biodiversity information systems. There are workshops on plant name data, specimen and accession data, geographic authority files, bibliographic authority files, descriptive data standards and so on. Metadata (data about real data) is becoming increasingly important in relation to distributed databases and combining datasets on the fly and will be the topic of major high level symposium later this year.

[Jim Croft]


As foreshadowed in the last newsletter, IT staff from each of the state herbaria (except DNA), and participants from ABRS and ERIN gathered at the Centre for three days of talking networks, databases, exchange standards and other riveting stuff. The Herbarium Information Systems Committee (HISCOM) had a long and hectic agenda, a major outcome of which will be a series of discussion papers and proposals to the Council of Heads of Australian Herbaria (CHAH).

Among these papers will be a visionary Strategic Plan for the group that should convince CHAH that they need to have one of their own, and a proposal and series of projects creating and laying the foundations for the Virtual Australian Herbarium as an on-line, distributed network of electronic herbarium data.

There were demonstrations of similar and related systems developed in the State herbaria, and of the on-line type photograph database that can be edited by each herbarium.

[Jim Croft]

3.4 Australian Plant Name Index (APNI)

The new application for APNI was refined during the month and Kirsten Cowley and Andrew Lyne have mastered the intricacy of this very complex part of the database and have begun entering and updating bibliographic and synonym information for Extinct, Endangered and Vulnerable species.

[Jim Croft]

3.5 Herbarium Database (ANHSIR)

The new ANHSIR database application is installed and running on a number of computer terminals in the Centre. There were several refinements to it during the month and staff have begun to use and test it before it becomes the sole means of accessing herbarium data.

Julie Paul (from the ANBG Nursery), the successful applicant for the Herbarium Registrar, has just started entering the backlog of labels and field books that have been creating bottlenecks in a number of places.

An important task for the use of the combined database is to produce a new CANB herbarium label that covers both legacy parts of the collection and database. Herbarium staff met and decided on the 'new look' (which is just about as unimaginative as the 'old look' - such is the conservatism of botanists.)

[Jim Croft]

4. Education and Communication

4.1 Flowers and Fruits of the Bush

For Floriade this year the Australian National Botanic Gardens will be presenting an exciting exhibition of textile art inspired by the Australian bush, complemented by floral arrangements using our native plants. "Flowers and Fruits of the Bush" will be open from Saturday 19 September to Sunday 18 October.

The textile pieces have been created especially for this exhibition by Keiko Amenomori Schmeisser, a Canberra textile artist with an international reputation. Keiko draws the inspiration for her designs from the natural world and uses traditional Japanese fabric techniques such as shibori (tie-dye) and silk painting to produce her pieces. Keiko has completed many major public commissions, including a series of screens for the Reception Hall at Parliament House. Keiko Schmeisser will present free talks about her work on Wednesday 23 and 30 September at 12.30 pm.

Floral art pieces in a variety of modern styles will be created by Ingrid Adler, Ping Block and Gloria Jones to complement the textile designs. Free Floral Art demonstrations will be held in the Theatrette at the Gardens at 12.30 pm on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout Floriade.

For more information contact the Visitor Centre at the Australian National Botanic Gardens by phone (02) 6250 9540.

[Murray Fagg]

5. General Centre Matters

5.1 Centre Review Report

All staff should have now received a copy (electronic) of the report from the review team. It has also been distributed to relevant senior executives in Biodiversity Group and CSIRO.

The Centre Executive Committee has been considering and preparing the first round of Centre responses to the recommendations. We have been considering carefully the means of implementing each recommendation, the implications of each and who it will affect, both within and outside the Centre.

These comments will be collated and distributed to you, the staff, for comment, feedback, reaction, whatever. It should be possible to do that in the week of 7-12 September. Several of you have already made your ideas and reactions known to Executive Committee members, but others may want to have input once you have something to shoot at.

Despite the fact that the report from the review looks on the face of it fairly straight forward, I can assure you (primarily from staff comment) that there are really very few of the recommendations on which we probably have unanimous agreement. For this reason I want to make sure everyone has some say and input and that we are aware of implications and reactions.

Once staff are in agreement on the less complex recommendations, we can probably implement them immediately. The Board wants to take this opportunity to play a more substantial role and will need to be consulted on many of the recommendations since they reflect on longer term strategies and functions.

[Judy West]

5.2 Advisory Committee Member

Last but not least, this month's Centre Advisory Committee Member is a new member who has not yet met with the whole Committee:

Roger Good

Roger is the Manager, Natural Heritage Unit, NSW NPWS, Southern Zone at Queanbeyan, NSW.

Roger Good has long family links with agriculture, conservation and botanical studies and has had a long professional involvement in biodiversity programs with the NSW Soil Conservation Service, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and through 1977 to 1984 with the CSIRO, Division of Plant Industry.

For some 10 years he was research officer and OIC of the alpine area revegetation program following the removal of grazing from the high country snowleases, during which time he studied the ecology of many alpine plants and communities. He has written many papers on conservation and a book on the natural history of Kosciusko National Park. He has also compiled and edited another for the Academy of Science and one for the Institut de Geographie Alpine, France. His alpine ecology work has lead to numerous invitations to overseas conferences and workshops on ecologically sustainable mountain development and biodiversity programs.

While at CSIRO he studied the impacts of fire regimes on native vegetation and developed a GIS based fire management model for use in national parks.

With the National Parks and Wildlife Service he has been involved for some 30 years in many biodiversity research and survey programs, contributing to the NSW Biodiversity Strategy and other NSW conservation policies. He was an inaugural member of the CONCOM Working Group on Endangered Plants and has represented Australia at several international forums on biological conservation of rare and threatened plants.

As Manager of the Natural Heritage Unit of the NPWS for Southern NSW, he currently coordinates and supervises surveys of remnant native vegetation on the Southern Tablelands and Western Slopes, the comprehensive coastal assessment program and Service input to the State Governments' water and vegetation reform programs. He is the NPWS representative on the recently established Murrumbidgee River Management Committee and has recently completed an assessment of the conservation status of all river subcatchments in Southern NSW.

He is a member of many professional societies and non-government conservation groups. He is a member of the IUCN Committee on Protected Areas.

Roger was educated at Hawkesbury Agricultural College, University of New England and University of NSW.

As a Senior Manager of a State Conservation Agency, Roger will bring to the Advisory Committee expertise in the field of Conservation Management and Planning.

6. Other News

6.1 Alf McMicken

It is with sadness that we have heard of the death of Alf McMicken, Chairman of the Friends of the ANBG for the last couple of years and a valued volunteer in the Herbarium. Alf died on Thursday, 13 August after a long illness.

[Murray Fagg]

6.2 Prof. Lindsay Dixon Pryor (1915-1998)

It is also with sadness that we have learned of the death of Lindsay Pryor.

(Born in Moonta, South Australia on 26 October 1915; died in Canberra, 17 August 1998.)

Lindsay was educated at the University of Adelaide and the Australian Forestry School in Canberra. In 1936 he was appointed an assistant forester in the ACT.

He was Superintendent, later Director, of Parks and Gardens for Canberra from 1944 to 1958. During this time he was also carrying out basic research in eucalypt hybridisation.

Lindsay supervised the early development of the Australian National Botanic Gardens from 1945 till 1958. He initiated plantings at the present site of the Gardens and its Annexe at Jervis Bay and an Alpine Annexe at Mt Gingera, which has since been abandoned.

Lindsay Pryor's interest in Australian native plants provided a basis for the Gardens' current policy of focusing its collections on native plants and established the framework of the Gardens' living collections.

Lindsay Pryor was appointed Foundation Professor of Botany at the Australian National University in 1958. He retired in 1976.

He was a member of the first Advisory Committee for the Australian National Botanic Gardens in the 1980's, and officiated at the launch of the "Friends of the ANBG" in 1990.

On 22 October 1995 the Friends paid special tribute to Lindsay and his contribution to the Gardens by unveiling a plaque in his honour beneath a tree of Eucalyptus pryoriana, just below the Rock Garden.

Lindsay Pryor will be remembered for the many facets of his professional work. He was a fine lecturer and many first year students in the Botany Department of the ANU will have been inspired by his introduction to plant science.

He was a notable Eucalyptus specialist and his early work on breeding systems set the standard for modern research in Australia's best known group of plants. This work reached its fulfilment in his much quoted, collaborative book with Lawrie Johnson, "A Classification of the Eucalypts" published in 1971. Just about every subsequent paper on Eucalyptus cites this seminal work. Pryor followed in the great tradition of eucalypt specialists like Mueller, Maiden, Blakely and Johnson.

[Murray Fagg & Ian Brooker]

Lindsay Pryor Memorial Scholarship Fund

We are investigating setting up a Lindsay Pryor Memorial Scholarship Fund between the CPBR and the ANBG for taxonomic research. This would enable us to represent Linday's taxonomic and botanic gardens interests.

[Judy West]

6.3 Black Mountain Library

The Black Mountain Library will shortly subscribe to Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. We will put the Herbarium on our circulating list when the journal starts to arrive.

[Carol Murray]

7. Diary of Events/Activities

9-16 Sep
Asian Pacific Orchid Conference/field work - Townsville
Mark Clements, David Jones, Anne Mackenzie (RSBS)
Mark and Anne jointly presenting two posters. David presenting a paper.

8-16 Sep
Plant Names Project Planning Meeting - Kew and Taxonomic Database Working Group (TDWG)
Jim Croft
Jim to attend initial planning meeting for Plant Name Project. Also workshop on taxonomic databases.

19 Sep - 18 Oct
"Flowers and Fruits of the Bush" textile exhibition
Keiko Schmeisser, Ingrid Adler, Ping Block and Gloria Jones
At the ANBG to coincide with Floriade.
Kekio (textile pieces), Ingrid, Ping and Gloria (floral art pieces).

23 Sep - 4 Oct
Review of Natural History Museum, London Research
Judy West
Review of NHM research programs.

27 Sep - 2 Oct
Monocot Conference - Sydney
Mark Clements, David Jones, Maggie Nightingale, Randy Bayer
Mark presenting paper on orchid embryology.

5 Nov
Centre Advisory Committee Meeting.

10-14 Nov
CHAH Meeting
Heads of Herbaria
CHAH meeting to be held at the ANH - one day retreat and two day meeting, followed by two, one day field trips.

16 Nov
PDF - new appointment
Elizabeth Watkin
Elizabeth to take up the 2-year post-doctoral position in legume-rhizobia interactions.

CPBR News is compiled by Suzie Dietrich (suzie.dietrich@pi.csiro.au),
Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research

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Placed here 15 November, 1999 by Andrew Lyne
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