Issue 40: October/November 2001



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 Val Oliver, the coordinator.


Val Oliver: ph (02) 6246 5533; fax (02) 6246 5249; email:



1. Herbarium

2002 Student Botanical Internship Program

Planning for the 2002 Student Botanical Internship Program is almost complete. Twenty four applications were received this year, similar to that for the 2001 Program, and nineteen placements have been offered. The Program proper will commence on Wednesday, 2nd January, and run through until Thursday 28th February. Interns will once again be occupying the Map Room for the duration of the Program.

The 2002 work/training program is largely complete, apart from some fine-tuning, and is available on the web at:

If any staff have difficulty accessing this, please let me know and I can provide an electronic or hardcopy version. Please also be aware that you can still put in requests for Intern labour in your area – see either Anthony Whalen or myself if you have any work that could benefit from some extra pairs of hands.

Roll on January….

[Brendan Lepschi]


Australia’s Virtual Herbarium (AVH)

The first formal meeting of the AVH Trust was held in the Centre November 7. The Trust Deed was signed (and captured on film), paving the way for the private sector Trustees particularly to begin to seek funds for the AVH.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the herbaria and the AVH Trust and the Director of National Parks (Peter Cochrane) has been finalised following the Trust meeting and has now been distributed to the participating organisations for signature. This should happen fairly promptly and will expedite the distribution of the funds to herbaria also.

Then there will be no looking back or second thoughts … the whole project has a good feel about it and our thanks to Peter Cochrane and EA staff such as Helen Halliday and Paul Minogue, for developing up the documentation on our behalf.

[Judy West]


2. Research Groups

Summer Students

The summer student program will be underway shortly for 2001-02. As in past years, there was a diversity of projects put forward to provide a range of interests for prospective students. Three of these projects came from CSIRO Forestry & Forestry Products, with the remainder coming from the CPBR. The pool of applicants included students from 5 different Australian universities spread across the country. A total of four studentships have been offered for this year, with an additional studentship held over from last year. All of these studentships have been accepted by the successful candidates who will be starting with their supervisors over the next few weeks.

Ms. Danielle Medek will be working with Christine Cargill on a project entitled "Is there more than one species in the Asterelle drummondii complex of the NSW region?". Ms. Alison Skinner will be working over at CSIRO Forestry & Forestry Products with Craig Gardiner and Penny Butcher on the "Impact of tree isolation on seed set, seed size and viability in Eucalyptus benthamii". Mr. Alex Roberts will be taking on a project with Rogier de Kok focused on "An assessment of species richness within the Labiate genus Teucrium in Australia". Ms. Radhika Murti will also be based at CSIRO Forestry & Forestry Products, and will be supervised by Chris Harwood on a project looking at "Variation in root set on selected Eucalyptus grandis cuttings". Finally, Luke Barrett will be supervised by Pete Thrall on "Ecological dynamics and coevolution in plant-pathogen metapopulations". I am sure we can look forward to an interesting and successful summer of science!

[Pete Thrall]


Proposed Honours Project: Invasion Ecology of Ward’s Weed (Carrichtera annua), an exotic species of arid rangeland ecosystems in southern Australia.

While in the Flinders Ranges and other arid regions of South Australia during the year, I became aware of the abundance and widespread distribution of Carrichtera annua (Ward's weed: Brassicaceae). Introduced into Australia in 1915 from the Mediterranean region, this annual species now occurs in all mainland states where it is a pastoral and environmental weed. Carrichtera annua invests heavily in reproduction and at high densities produces as many as 23 000 seeds per square metre annually. This project will investigate how key biotic variables (grazing and competition) as well as abiotic factors (rainfall, temperature and soil type) affect the weed's distribution and population dynamics. The research will use glasshouse experiments and data gathered from the field including from existing herbivore exclosures. Another major part of the project will be to assess the significance of the weed, collecting data on the environmental and economic costs of Carrichtera annua to help prioritise areas in which its management is most urgently required. Preliminary feed back from a number of weed scientists, National Parks officers and land-holders supports studies on Carrichtera annua, illustrating its importance. The project will start mid-year 2002 and be supervised by Julian Ash (ANU), Richard Groves (CSIRO Plant Industry) and possibly Darren Kriticos (CSIRO Entomology). I am very keen to pursue this project as I feel it will make an important contribution to the control of a widespread and costly weed, the study of which has previously been neglected.

[Julia Cooke]


3. Education and Communication



Amazing Offer #1

Nature's Investigator: The Diary of Robert Brown in Australia 1801-1805

by T.G.Vallance, D.T.Moore & E.W.Groves

This book was published late November. It comprises xii + 666 pages and has 33 colour plates, 4 b/w half tones and 41 maps. It will weigh in at about 2 kg!

It consists of a full transcription of Brown's Diary, supporting documentation from his companions (Flinders, Good, Humphries, etc) and extensive interpretation of localities, identitities of plants, animals and minerals collected, and background historical information.

Full price for the book in Australia will be $75 (incl. GST) plus $7.50 post and packing.

Centre staff who place (and pay for) orders before 31 December, can take advantage of our special pre-publication price of $60, and we will hand deliver them (to the Centre) to save you the postage as well.

Amazing offer #2:

Allan Cunningham - Australian Collecting Localities by Suzanne Curry, Bruce Maslin & John Maslin

This is the latest in the Flora of Australia Supplementary Series, and is the sequel to the Robert Brown book.

Allan Cunningham was chosen to accompany Phillip Parker King on his four voyages to northern, western and southern Australia in 1817-22, to complete the survey work begun by Flinders and Brown. He also visited Tasmania, and conducted extensive surveys in inland NSW and Qld.

This book provides a detailed account of his collecting sites during the King and Tasmanian voyages, and a brief overview of his other collecting activities.

This book will be published in late November. It comprises iv+ 90 pages and has a full colour cover, and 40 detailed text maps. Price in Australia will be $25 (incl. GST) plus $2.50 post and packing.

Centre staff who place (and pay for) orders before 31 December, can take advantage of our special pre-publication price of $20, and we will hand deliver them (to the Centre) to save you the postage as well.


If you require copies as Christmas presents, then orders should be sent to Bethany Leditschke <>, phone 6250 9442, before 18 December. No orders will be processed 19-25 December. We can take real cash, cheques, or Bankcard, Visa or Mastercard. Don't send credit card details by email for security reasons.

Orders for January delivery: send to ABRS (Publications), GPO Box 787, Canberra ACT 2601, or contact Annette Wilson by email on <> or 6250 9417

[Tony Orchard]


4. Information Technology and Data Management

International Bioforum meetings in Sydney

In November, the Centre, the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney and the Australian Museum organized a series of back-to-back and concurrent meetings and symposia dealing with Biodiversity Informatics and on-line biological information. In spite of the deteriorating international situation, we decided to go ahead with the meetings and attendance and international representation was excellent, as was the variety and quality of presentations.

Several staff from the Centre attended and gave presentations at these meetings. Of particular interest were The Taxonomic Databases Working Group meeting dealing with structure and content standards for biological databases, the Australian Herbarium Information Systems Committee (HISCOM), the museum fauna collections equivalent OZCAM, and the accessions data technical subgroup of TDWG. There was also a regional symposium of taxonomic information projects in the Asia and Pacific Region.

The Australia’s Virtual Herbarium project aroused considerable interest during these meetings and was the subject of several presentations and workshops. HISCOM and OZCAM met jointly for part of their sessions and reached agreement to share technology, enabling the museum community to use and build on the facilities and programs developed for the AVH.

The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) meeting scheduled for the same time was postponed to March 2002 because of the international airline difficulties and uncertainty, but the meeting of the advisory committee for the Species Plantarum (Flora of the World) project went ahead.

The Bioforum represented a very successful series of meeting for the Centre, following close on the heels of the Flora Malesiana Symposium. The symposia and workshops were marked by an increasing international awareness of and enthusiasm for the importance and power of using common standards, sharing data, making taxonomic and collections information freely available. The flavour of the moment is the flexibility of representing data in XML, and the importance of precision in geographic data, representing occurrence as polygonal shapes rather than points. Once again, very much a case of watch this space.

[Jim Croft]


Some major URLs to access databases for the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research.

The Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research web site:

The Australian National Herbarium database:

The complete web view of the Australian Plant Name Index:

'What's Its Name?', a popular view of data from the Australian Plant Name Index:

The International Plant Name Index:

Australia’s Virtual Herbarium:

Searching the National Plant Photographic Index by plant name:

Searching the digitised images of the Photographic Index by family:

Council of Heads of Australian Herbaria


5. General Centre Matters

Staffing changes

There have been several staff ‘comings and goings’ in the past couple of months:

Welcome aboard to:

Goodbyes and best wishes to:

I am quite sure we will continue collaborations with both – many thanks for your valuable

More appointments in the pipeline:

[Judy West]



Recently, I presented a seminar for The Friends of the ANBG on my experiences while working at the Indonesian Botanic Gardens for 3.5 years from 1995-1998 as an Australian Volunteer Abroad. Below is an extract from that seminar:

There are three Botanic Gardens in Java and one in Bali. In Bogor Botanic Gardens I worked with three Indonesian staff in the office of the Indonesian Network for Plant Conservation (INetPC). This small team produced the quarterly newsletter (Eksplorasi), organised a monthly discussion meeting on conservation issues in Indonesia, organised workshops and training programs for staff, and also developed a web site (

I was also involved in developing projects and was successful in obtaining funding for two of these projects: one funded by ACIAR, and another by the MacArthur Foundation.

Training and collaborative research components of these projects enabled the involvement of staff from the Herbarium of the N.T., Adelaide Botanic Garden and Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney.

[Frank Zich]


6. Other News

The Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research and the Australian National Herbarium

wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.






7. Diary of Events/Activities




Details (relate to projects)

5 Dec

Executive Committee mtg

EC members

ANH tea room @ 10.30 am

11 Dec


Judy West


13 Dec

PI Xmas party at ANH


Program U is organising the PI Christmas party

14 Dec

ANBG Xmas Party

ANBG & CPBR staff


17 Dec

CPBR Board meeting

Board members

Map Room

21 Dec

Centre Xmas lunch


Under the oak tree