ISSN 1188-603X

No. 191 May 2, Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2


From: Alec McClay (

First Announcement

August 13-14, 1998 - Edmonton, Alberta

Common tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), is an increasingly abundant weed in pastures, roadsides, and riparian areas in Alberta. The Alberta Research Council and Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development will be holding a workshop to review the available information on tansy, including the results of recent studies in Alberta, and to develop plans for its management. The possibility of starting a biological control program against tansy will be an option to be discussed. The program will include a field tour to view tansy-infested areas. This workshop will be open to anyone interested in this weed, including researchers, land managers, and weed control specialists from the public and private sectors. We would also be interested to know if anyone has information on possible economic uses of tansy (herbal, medicinal, etc.) that could be presented at the workshop. For further information, or if you would like to make a presentation at the workshop, please contact me by May 29, 1998:


From: Cris Guppy (

I have long needed a single compiled list of plant synonymies and common names for British Columbia. I am mostly interested in plants as butterfly or moth larval food plants and adult nectar sources. Literature records of larval food plants may be a century or more old, and hence synonymies are essential. Unlike Adolf, I thank Qian and Klinka for their checklist. Checklist authors are to be praised, I cannot think of anything more boring to compile.

Hard copies of checklists ARE useful, in addition to digital checklists. Not everyone has a decent computer to access a digital checklist, and not everyone who wants to use a checklist wants or needs a modern computer. As for Internet lists, I generally work mostly in the evenings. At that time my Internet access is severely limited due to all lines being in use. Having a hard copy checklist beside my desk avoids my needing to wait until after 11:00 PM to find out one synonymy or common name. Of course the price of this checklist is incredibly high, which presumably is the result of a limited press run based on a prediction of limited sales (guaranteed by the price).

As for hard copies rapidly becoming out of date _ of course they will, and so will digital files unless someone is constantly updating them. That may or may not be possible for any particular list, depending on funding, retirements and deaths. And who is going to pay for the production and distribution of digital checklists? A hard copy book can pay for itself through sales, while a digital file immediately gets pirated. I might add that I would love to have a digital checklist in addition to the hard copy, both have their uses. An important function of a hard copy checklist is that it is unchanging (exactly what Adolf objects to), and hence reports or publications can reference it as the source of their common and scientific names (specifying changes as needed). Even when errors are present or changes occur, use of the checklist as the source of names provides a solid base against which future work can be compared.

It is unfortunate that there are errors in Qian and Klinka's checklist, and that some have been repeated from a previous checklist, but the only way to correct errors is to systematically document and publish them so that future checklists can include the corrections. BEN would be an appropriate place to document minor errors of spelling and gender. Similarly if taxonomic conclusions are in error, DOCUMENT and PUBLISH alternative opinions instead of just complaining about them.

I pleased that Qian and Klinka have included non-BC synonymies in their checklist. It would be nice to have included non-North American synonymies as well, but there are limits to what any publication can address. BC covers such a limited geographic area that there would be no purpose in including any synonymies if those from outside BC are excluded. Omitting non-BC synonymies would have been omitting the world context within which BC exists.

The "duplication" of names through the use of three separate checklist is only partly unnecessary. A better format would have been to have the main checklist followed by an alphabetical index of all names, allowing rapid location of the current placement of any name (a numeric taxon code, described below, would assist in this).

I agree with Adolf that a list of ALL references consulted would have been useful, so that omissions could be noted. Explanations of taxonomic decisions would also be useful. One strategy in a checklist is to insert "note numbers" which lead to an appendix of taxonomic references and explanations. This allows checklist authors to explain and document their decisions, and acknowledge controversial issues, while maintaining the usefulness of the list itself.

Adolf is correct that the list of "excluded species" is a significant problem in the checklist, although the reason is not the errors he notes. The lack of explanations for WHY the species are excluded, and why they were originally considered for inclusion, is the major problem. The excluded species should have included in the main checklist, with the addition of a note stating that they do not occur in BC despite some previous literature reference to the contrary.

A useful addition to the checklist would have been a numeric "taxon code" for each species (and possibly genus & family). Alphabetic taxon codes have been provided, and probably have their uses (I have never used them, and so have not explored their potential). The advantage of a numeric taxon code is that computer sorting will retain the basic checklist order, which is very useful when compiling databases of collection records. Additional species can be inserted through use of decimal numbers until a completely new checklist is produced.

I compliment Qian and Klinka on their checklist, and congratulate them on completing the project despite the incredible tedium involved.


I am glad that you are happy with your copy of Qian & Klinka's Plants of British Columbia, and I am glad that I can post a positive view of this publication. BEN has already dealt with some taxonomic problems mentioned in my review. Check BEN # 9 for Vaccinium alaskense. In the same issue of BEN you will find why listing synonyms such as "Uva-ursi uva-ursi" is a historical atavism rather than a useful reference.

Vascular plants summary for British Columbia reveals some interesting facts:

Authors                       Genera  Species

Taylor & MacBryde (1977)        744     3137
Douglas et al.  (1994)          720     2595
Qian & Klinka  (1998)           565     2105

Although the taxonomical concept of genera and species is about the same in all three publications, the numbers are strikingly different. Taylor & MacBryde (1977) listed all vascular plants ever reported in published literature (they gave over 1000 references for vascular plants only) and their list contains accidental introductions, as well as some erroneous reports not supported by voucher specimens. Douglas et al. (1994) based their account on herbarium specimens and they excluded all introductions of vascular plants, if the plant has not been collected in the last 40 years. They also discussed all excluded species and gave the reason for excluding each particular species. Qian & Klinka (1998) should have done the same for their excluded species.

Literature cited:
Douglas, G.W., D. Meidinger, & G.B. Straley. 1994.
The vascular plants of British Columbia: Part 4 - Monocotyledons. Special Report Series No. 4. B.C. Ministry of Forests, Victoria. 257 p.
Qian, H. & K. Klinka. 1998.
Plants of British Columbia: Scientific and common names of vascular plants, bryophytes, and lichens. UBC Press, Vancouver. xiv + 534 p.
Taylor, R.L. & B. MacBryde. 1977.
Vascular plants of British Columbia: A descriptive resource inventory. Technical Bulletin No. 4, UBC Botanical Gardens, UBC Press, Vancouver. xxiv + 754 p.


From: Simon Nash ( originally posted on ECOSYS-L (ECOSYS-L@LISTSERV.GMD.DE)

We are pleased to announce the launch of a new World Wide Web Site for WETLANDS INTERNATIONAL - AFRICA, EUROPE, MIDDLE EAST:

The site contains Background information on the organization; Information on Technical Programme activities; Publications and reports; Up and coming meetings; Key links to other wetland-related sites; News from the AEME region and detailed information on the 2nd International Conference on Wetlands and Development to be held later this year.

Our aim is to keep the site updated regularly, in particular the news pages and information on our programme activities. Future developments on the site will include the introduction of a wetlands search tool and on-line access to the Ramsar Wetland Sites database.

For further information contact:

Submissions, subscriptions, etc.:
BEN is archived at