Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research
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: Val.Oliver@csiro.au
"EUCLID -Eucalypts of southern Australia", second edition, by Brooker, Slee, Connors and Duffy.
At last the second edition of EUCLID is available. "EUCLID Eucalypts of southern Australia" covers all 690 taxa found in NSW, Vic, Tas, SA and the southern part of WA (south of 26 latitude). Ian Brooker and I started work on this in April 1998. John Connors meanwhile was revising the first edition "EUCLID Eucalypts of south-eastern Australia", including the Angophora species and also presenting written information and imagery in a species fact sheet format, setting the standard we have since followed. When he had finished that laborious task John joined us on "EUCLID Eucalypts of southern Australia". Siobhan Duffy joined the team about halfway through and, as if by magic, the graphics side of the production of the package suddenly was no longer a problem. Many other people helped along the way of course, but particularly helpful within the Centre were Judy West who handled dealings with the granting agency, Bushcare, and the publisher, and Helen Hewson who read 690 descriptions.
Apart from the extended geographic coverage and the extra 365 taxa included as a result, the main improvements in "EUCLID Eucalypts of southern Australia" have been in the quality of imagery, inclusion of seed imagery for almost all species, expansion of descriptions to include seedling morphology, presenting of fact sheets and character notes in HTML format with numerous links, most importantly links from the list of "Synonyms and rejected names" to the relevant species. In 2000 Ian published a milestone paper "A new classification of the Genus Eucalyptus L'Her. (Myrtaceae)" which provided a taxonomic framework for the package enabling us to more clearly discuss relationships between species in the "Notes" section of the fact sheets. Note that the bloodwoods and ghost gums are included as species of Eucalyptus, not as Corymbia species.
"EUCLID Eucalypts of southern Australia" covers every eucalypt likely to be found growing naturally in southern Australia, and probably the vast majority of those cultivated also. Fortuitously it is also likely to cover all species cultivated in New Zealand. It is presented on two CDs, one is the "Installation set-up package", the other is "Media: HTML and images". It is designed to run on the desktop while continually referencing the Media CD for images and text. This works quite speedily. Also included is a short manual containing among other things, a guide to best practice when using the key.
"EUCLID Eucalypts of southern Australia" can be obtained from CSIRO Publishing and can be ordered via the web
http://www.publish.csiro.au/books/bookpage.cfm?PID=3281. If you want to have a look at the package running come and see me.
Thanks to everyone who helped with anything during this period.
A major missing component of restoration is the effective use of important interactions between plants and soil symbionts such as nitrogen-fixing rhizobial bacteria or mycorrhizal fungi. For example, from earlier work, we know that there is enormous variability in the effectiveness of different strains of native rhizobia, that there is considerable host specificity (i.e. some strains work better with particular plant species), and that native rhizobia are frequently missing from agricultural soils where revegetation is most crucial. Moreover, small-scale field trials have shown that non-host plants (e.g. eucalypts) also benefit from being grown in proximity to inoculated legumes. To do a better job of revegetating our landscapes, and to effectively use key plant-microbe interactions, we need to be able to transfer these to large-scale direct-seeding operations.
As part of our long-term development of an integrated science program on restoration ecology and rehabilitation of native remnant vegetation, we have initiated a collaborative research partnership with Greening Australia Victoria to explore the use of native rhizobia in revegetation in field situations. Recently, I spent a week in north-central Victoria (in the area around Bendigo), setting up trial sites with inoculated and uninoculated Acacias (5 species were used), and also using up to 20 other non-legumes that were local to the region. With major on-ground support from the North Central Catchment Management Authority (NCCMA), and the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (DNRE), we planted a total of 25 km of direct-seeded rows across 8 different properties. These cover a wide range of soil types and rainfall patterns. Another 3-4 properties will be planted further north in the coming autumn. Over the next 18-24 months, these will be monitored for a range of information, including germination rates, growth and survival, changes in the abundance of native rhizobia in the soil, and nitrogen fixation.
A CSIRO Media Release titled Looking underground for revegetation solutions can be viewed on the Internet: http://www.csiro.au from Monday 16 September.
Dr Curt Brubaker delivered an excellent lecture on Botanical Treasures on 4 September to an almost full Discovery lecture theatre as part of the Biodiversity Bites lecture series. Dr Geoff Garrett, CSIROs Chief Executive Officer, chaired the session and stimulated discussion and questions from the audience. Geoff was most impressed with our efforts to deliver the results of our research to a wider public audience.
The website address for Curts lecture is http://www.cpbr.gov.au/cpbr/lectures/treasures/
This will be available from Monday Sept. 16.
Dates, topics and presenters of the next lectures are:
2 October - Plant Invaders (presented by Trudi Mullett)
Its not only the exotics that are escaping - our crops are getting away and even some of our natives are on the move
6 November - Bushland on Life Support (presented by Pete Thrall and Linda Broadhurst)
Remnant vegetation and the quality of life
I attended the biennial CSIRO Personal Assistants (PAs) Conference in Adelaide on 12 & 13 August together with 150 PAs from all parts of Australia. The theme of this years conference was On(e)-CSIRO, a combination of e-CSIRO and One CSIRO and considered how PAs can contribute to the new direction of CSIRO as new technology, e.g. records management techniques, career management portfolios and cyber seminars, is rolled out across the organization. Networking opportunities provided a forum to discuss best practice while group discussion identified some thought provoking initiatives on how PAs can assist in implementing this new technology across the divisions in an informed and logical manner. Site visits during the conference included CSIROs Health Sciences and Nutrition lab for a presentation and the Waite Campus at Urrbrae where PAs from Plant Industry enjoyed afternoon tea with Dr Anna Koltunow and staff.
I found the conference rewarding and now feel better prepared for whats ahead!!
The sightseeing in and around Adelaide was also very rewarding!
After Centre staff did such a fabulous job on the Species Profiles for Rare and Threatened flora (SPRAT) contract this time last year, we managed to secure another year-long contract for the maintenance and further development of this database. SPRAT is a re-incarnation in a slightly different form of the old ROTAP database that used to be maintained by CSIRO Plant Industry. Glenda Shelley has been employed to undertake this work of preparing profiles for species recently listed (or about to be) on the schedules under the EPBC Act, and maintaining currency of those taxa already in the SPRAT database. She will also be assisting EA with nomenclatural aspects, that Arthur Chapman used to do for this project. Glenda commenced on 9 September and will be situated temporarily with Jo Palmer, until a more long-term place becomes available. Glenda's previous employment was at Environment Australia in the Bushcare area, and she has been keen to work in the herbarium for some time. I hope it proves to be enjoyable and successful, and worth the wait for her!
The next Program U/Centre formal meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 18 September in the ANH Tearoom at 10.15 am. Agenda items may be forwarded via email to Val.Oliver@csiro.au
University of Copenhagen
I have been overseas in Denmark and England for c. 3 weeks in August. The major reason for my travels was to undertake a review of the botanical research and other activities in the University of Copenhagen. The Evaluation Committee included Vernon Heywood of Reading University, Pieter Baas from Leiden and Jeff Doyle from Cornell in the US it was a good team with very complementary skills and experiences needed for such a wide ranging review. Im pleased it was such a good group to work with because it was a tough job - besides the mountains of paper I consumed several nights beforehand, we were actively working and discussing issues from c. 7am each morning over breakfast through to late evenings, with full days of lab visits and interviews with staff.
The University of Copenhagen has 3 botanical institutions the Botanical Institute ( c. = a botany department), the Botanic Garden and the Botanical Museum (= herbarium) and part of our terms of reference was to investigate possibilities of rationalisation, and especially since two of these organisations currently have very small critical mass. As you can imagine maintaining resources for collections activities and management (the herbarium and gardens) within a university context these days is fraught with all sorts of complications. The herbarium and gardens in Copenhagen both have great potential but are suffering, even though they are recognised as national institutions.
There is a wide variety of botanical research taking place in the University, including some cutting edge stuff in phycology, mycology, evolutionary botany (eg, phylogenetic systematics) and physiological ecology. We are now finalising our report and should have it delivered to the Dean of the University early next week.
The library collection that is managed as part of the herbarium is a wonderful collection, particularly the historical material. How would you like to have a library system where you have to request a library staff member to bring to you (from 1 or 2 flights above usually) EVERY item that you wish to see? Rather brings the concept of browsing the literature or searching for ideas into a different realm.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
I spent the second part of the trip at Kew working in the herbarium. This was primarily to further my collaborations with Iris Peralta from Mendoza in Argentina on Calandrinia sens.lat. and Portulacaceae generally. We have devised more clearly the research project (with some other collaborators) to try to understand this family better; this is particularly relevant given the continuing efforts in the literature re the relationships within the Caryophyllales.
While at Kew I presented a seminar on some of the work that we are undertaking here at the Centre, covering the AVH and its extensions into interactive keys, and leading into the applications and use of collections data with Greening the Grainbelt and the restoration biology work. It seemed to be well received and created lots of discussion Kew want to develop a node of the AVH that should give HISCOM a further challenge. There is a strong desire from several staff and the Director Peter Crane to develop collaborations with some of the projects we are pursuing.
It was great to catch up with lots of colleagues and friends at Kew and I gave them a hard time about stealing Rogier from us . some of them even apologised!