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Issue 67: February 2005

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. Australian National Herbarium

Volunteer Student Botanical Internship Program 2005 Overview

Participants and Institutions

2005 represents the thirteenth year that the Volunteer Student Botanical Internship Program has been run. A total of 25 applications were received for the Program, with 19 placements offered, all were accepted. All 19 Interns successfully completed the Program in 2005.

Institutions Represented, 2005 Interns came from:

Australian National University (1)
Canberra Institute of Technology (2)
Case Western Reserve University, USA (1)
Charles Darwin University (1)
Charles Sturt University, Wagga (1)
Griffith University (1)
James Cook University (2)
La Trobe University (2)
Monash University (2)
University of New England (1)
University of the Sunshine Coast (2)
University of Technology, Sydney (3)

Recruitment Trends

Eleven Australian universities or colleges were represented along with one graduate from an American institution. There was only one Australian National University student and two CIT students, representing unusually low numbers of Canberra participants this year. The general trend of low numbers from Sydney was somewhat addressed this year, with three students participating, all from the University of Technology, Sydney. A student from the Charles Darwin University also took part, providing the Program with its first Northern Territorian.

Many of our participants had completed, or were in the process of completing, degrees in horticulture. Other students were working towards degrees in environmental science, botany or geography. Overall it was a good mix of backgrounds and interests that no doubt added to the Intern's learning experience.

The number of applicants received by the closing date was double on the previous year, resulting in the need to select applicants on merit. The application numbers fluctuate wildly from year to year, and it is difficult to determine what the reasons for this might be. Direct email contact with relevant academics has helped the Program build a strong presence in universities and colleges across the country. This presence and electronic promotion on websites such as EnviroJobs , needs to be strengthened in years to come.


The major curatorial effort of 2005 involved processing herbarium specimens that were part of the Atherton Herbarium (QRS) duplicate backlog collection. Good progress was made with these collections; 3.5 pallet loads being sorted, database-updated and boxed ready for distribution to 24 international institutions who have expertise in tropical flora s . This processing effort, using up to six workstations around the herbarium , represents more than half of the QRS backlog. The 2006 Intern Program should complete the full processing of this material.

Another heritage collection that in terns were involved in was the processing of the Gray collections. Max Gray collected most of these specimens around Armidale in the 1950-1970s. Interns sorted the specimens in preparation for field book data entry, processing approximately half of the col lections. Once again it is hoped the 2006 Intern Program will complete this task. Other curatorial work included mounting and incorporation of vascular and non-vascular specimens, identification of specimens, assistance with loans and exchange, data entry, determining specimen geocodes and general lab and herbarium tasks.

Along with curation work, interns provided research assistance to a number of the CPBR research scientists. The biggest project saw all interns over several days assist with the Remnant Population Project , removing and cleaning a large number of seedlings needed for weighing. Assistance was also provided to research groups such as orchids, daisies, cryptogams and several plant propagation projects. The developing “orchid key” interactive product was also tested by most interns who made comment on its accuracy and usability.


Fieldwork in 2005 followed the well-established format of previous years. The first trip was a one-day drive with Honorary Forestry Fellow Ian Brooker, who led the interns through sites around Queanbeyan, Captains Flat and Tallaganda State Forest, introducing them to many of the local eucalypt species.

The four-day residential field trip to Jervis Bay this year helped provide botanical support to an ongoing ANU CRES faunal research project. Drs Chris Macgregor (ANU) and Malcolm Gill (CPBR) lead the interns in a post fire assessment of the woodland and heath communities found in a number of the ANU animal field plots. Species showing varying degrees of response to fire were collected, identified and documented. These were then compared to the diversity and abundance of similar communities found in non-burnt sites. The students also enjoyed a bush tucker tour led by Wreck Bay local Barry Moore around the Booderee Botanic Gardens.


The 2005 Program attracted media attention at the end of the course with an interview of two graduates which resulted in a Canberra Times article . There was also a small article written in the Canberra Chronicle . The Intern Program featured in one of the January CSIRO Yellow Sheet articles, helping provide CSIRO PI staff with greater awareness of the interns and the herbarium collection.


Overall, the 2005 Interns Program was very successful. A wide range of curatorial and research tasks were provided allowing interns to experience a range of herbarium activities.

All Interns were also provided with Evaluation Forms for the Program. Comments from these forms are currently being reviewed to help make improvements to the 2006 Program. The verbal feedback on the 2005 Program by graduates has been overwhelmingly positive.

Concerns and Issues

No major difficulties were encountered during the running of the 2005 Program, though a few issues need to be thought about for next year:

IT support took a turn for the worse in 2005, though the in-house presence of Kim Navin helped overcome most of the major problems that were encountered. Due to CSIRO IT restructuring, there was very little support available to respond to setting up new computers, printer connection problems and such like. One password incident saw the entire group of interns shut out of the CSIRO network for three critical days. As much of the intern program in the next few year s will require heavy comp uter use, we will require some serious consideration of the future IT support from both CSIRO and DEH.

The perennial problem of accommodation for interstate participants remains a major issue. Most students avoided the high priced ANU colleges this year, finding short-term share accommodation off campus. A number of staff also generously billeted rooms to students, an option that could possibly be formalised early next year. Accommodation costs is the single biggest issue mentioned by students first star ting the Program.


Overall costs come out at $5709 to run the 2005 Interns Program, slightly more expensive than 2004 (at $5666). As with previous years most of this cost was generated by the Jervis Bay fieldtrip, and associated vehicle hire and fuel costs.


The success of the 2005 Program is in no small part due to the considerable efforts of a number of Centre staff, outside academics and others who freely gave their time to present lectures and training sessions, as well as p roviding supervision. I am most grateful to all concerned. Thanks are also due to all CPBR and ANBG staff, especially those at the Herbarium, for their tolerance, enthusiasm and support during the course of the Program. For a full report on the 2005 Intern Program please see me.

[Anthony Whalen]

Interns Kirsty Elwell and Troy Brown proudly display the Atherton duplicates specimens processed by the 2005 Interns.




•  On behalf of the 2005 botanical interns I would like to say a few words…

•  The Internship is a bit like the reality TV show ‘Survivor'…… without the cameras and without Tribal Council. No one has been voted out so…

•  we have been together now for 7 weeks and we're quite a diverse group of people.

•  we haven't become as inseparable as Brendan Lepschi and his coffee mug, but we certainly have forged some very good friendships.



to The Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, for conducting this very beneficial Internship program

Although we have put in a few hard yards in the Herbarium, we have received far more than we have given

We have been privileged to look through a window and view the world of botanical research….

through this window we have glimpsed :

Bitou Bush
Fire Ecology
Aboriginal culture
Molecular systematics
DNA fingerprinting
And Gaharu

In addition to this we have learnt valuable technical skills in the Herbarium….

We have:

Incorporated Mounted
Keyed out
And Labelled hundreds of herbarium specimens

We have been mentored in:

Public speaking
Job applications
CV preparation
and Interview technique

The deposit that has been made into each one of our lives will be something that we can draw from over the coming years. I know it will prove invaluable as we enter the job market.


Thank you to

We would also like to thank

Thank you to our long-suffering supervisors….

We want to say a MASSIVE THANKYOU to Anthony Whalen for his superb organization, his patience, unfailing diplomacy and attention to detail.

THANKYOU to the many, many people who have been involved in the Internship program. Your contribution has ensured that our experience at the CPBR was multi-coloured.

We are also very appreciative of the kind gift from the Friends of the Gardens. The generous book voucher and year's membership are absolutely tremendous.

I know that many of us have our eyes on particular books already

Finally, I would like to wish my fellow interns every success in the future, and thankyou for being the talented, motivated people that you are.

[Jacqueline Jenkins]


2. Seminars

CPBR to run Spring Biodiversity Seminar series again this year

A decision was made by the CPBR Executive late last year to run a series of public seminars in Spring, similar in format to those we ran in the Discovery Lecture Theatre in 2000, 2001, 2002.

Although is early planning days yet, the working group of Murray Fagg, Carolyn Parsons, Alex Pelvin, Marliene van der Merwe, and Anthony Whalen have met once with Judy West to discuss the format and timing.

We are looking to hold the series around the broad theme of water and biodiversity, focusing on S.E. Australia, perhaps emphasising the Murray/Murrumbidgee catchment.

We will hold one public seminar each Wednesday in September, starting 5 or 6 pm, probably with a keynote speaker and a panel discussion to follow.

If you have any bright ideas, talk to one of the working group.

[Murray Fagg]


Australian Native Plants Society

Canberra Region Inc
PO Box 217 Civic Square ACT

Bulletin March 2005

Next Members Meeting: Thursday 10 March, 8pm

CSIRO Discovery, Clunies Ross St, Black Mountain

Speaker: Ed Cross

Born and bred in the rural sector of Sydney, Ed came to Canberra to complete a PhD at the Australian National University and Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, studying evolutionary relationships in Rhodanthe ( Helipterum group). He is currently working on a treatment of the Heliantheae, another tribe of daisies, for the Flora of Australia.

Topic: Evolutionary relationships in the Australian Paper daisies

Ed will look at the biology and taxonomy of Australian paper daisies in the Rhodanthe group. In particular, he will focus on their identification, cultivation and propagation; taxonomic problems in the group, solutions to those problems using new technologies, and how these studies affect people interested in plants. [Val Oliver]


Updated 10 March, 2005 , webmaster, CANBR (