|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 231 September 6, firstname.lastname@example.org||Victoria, B.C.|
Dr. Wesley Larsen of Toquerville, Utah has given me copies of two papers by Walter Cottam that ought to be keystones in dis- cussions of the effects of grazing (and combined grazing and fire) in the arid West. Having spent six years at Hanford, Washington, I know their scope goes beyond Utah.
Wes Larsen was Dean of Science at what is now Southern Utah University in Cedar City. He, at 83, has recently retired a second time, since (he claims) he now has his student loans paid off. Actually, he wants to spend full time on writing in his coupled areas of interest, botany, ethnobotany, human ecology and history. The papers are:
This paper uses data on the much visited Mountain Meadows in Washington County, Utah. It clearly illustrates the ecological catastrophe at this once-key resting area on the trail from Santa Fe to California taken by Fremont in the 1840s.
This paper strikes at the heart of the Utah myth that the "desert has been turned green," and was given on the occasion of the University of Utah's annual Reynolds Lecture for the centennial settlement year. Cottam shows the process of range destruction in a cultural socioeconomic context, and asserts that much of the damage occurred within two or three decades of settlement. He cites data that grass cover in Utah's Great Basin went from 45% to Zero between 1857 and 1937, while Artemisia increased from 1% to 12% and Chrysothamnus rose to 13%. It's a powerful paper that must have taken great courage.
In 1947 the cattle industry in Utah had great leverage as it still does today, though both then and now its economic contribution is small. Then, however, he had substantial support from cattlemen in retaining public lands under federal control. Only the federal government, they believed, could direct the needed resources to range research and restoration.
Restoration-minded or not, today Cottam would be labeled an "environmentalist," a term of some approbation in Utah. Fortunately, 1940 and 1947 were years before the term was coined. Wes assures me that Cottam (one of his professors) was a scientific activist, arguing (for example) with county commissioners against sheep trailing in sensitive watershed canyons, and speaking out on restoration at any opportunity. Walter Cottam was decades ahead of his time, and his papers have extra power from that today. He saw it as it was--and is.
In The American Cockerell, A Naturalist's Life, 1866-1948, botanist William A. Weber pulls together pieces of the life of T.D.A. "Theo" Cockerell, a man who was an internationally known scientist, a prolific writer, and a highly regarded teacher at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The elder brother of the noted scholar Sir Sydney Cockerell, Theo labored in relative obscurity in America while his brothers and their families were basking in the limelight of smart British society.
Despite his alienation from his elite background, he nevertheless became a great teacher, a mentor, a kindly artist and writer of rhymes for children, and the greatest specialist on bees in the world. His contribution to the understanding of wild bees is monumental; he catalogued over 900 species in Colorado alone, and he assiduously collected them wherever he traveled. By 1938 he had published the names and descriptions of 5,480 new species and subspecies. Despite his accomplishments in entomology however, Cockerell resisted specialization. He was also an early supporter of women's rights, a Morrisian socialist, an avid reader, and author of almost 4,000 published scientific papers, book reviews, and discussions of political and social issues.
Pieced together from T.D.A.'s little-known autobiographical writings, The American Cockerell demonstrates this extraordinary individual's breadth of interest, competence, and talent. It will be of interest to scientists and lay readers alike. Most of the papers originally were written for young students and the public; his insights into the future problems facing education especially in America were prophetic.
Available at special 20 per cent prepublication discount, US$23.96 (until November) from University Press of Colorado, order toll free 1-800-268-6044. You must mention SOURCE CODE FLD when placing an order. Address of the University of Colorado Press is PO Box 849, Niwoty CO 80544.
This book covers 309 species of fruticose lichens that occur or are expected to occur in British Columbia. It starts with a short, clear introduction to lichen morphology. In the main part, Trevor Goward provides keys for identification of genera and species. Range and habitat, chemical reactions, and chemical constituents are listed for all the species. In numerous notes that accompany descriptions, Trevor adds any information useful for the species identification or for understanding their distributions. Trevor did all of the drawings that form the integral part of introductory chapters and keys. You will see that it is a great advantage when the author of a taxonomic treatment can illustrate his own work.
I was impressed by the keys to Cladina (72 species; mind you, that's only about a one half of our sedges!) and I liked all the information on the "Calicioid" lichens - those small pins that you can find on tree bark in our ancient forests. BEN readers won't be at all surprised that I don't like Trevor's effort to provide common names for all lichens "as vehicles of communication for those unwilling to use scientific names." Some of those common names sound like they were coined while under the influence of Cladonia pleurota - "Mind-altering pixie-cup."
The book is very well produced and both Trevor Goward and the British Columbia Ministry of Forests should be congratulated for this excellent contribution. Many thanks, Trevor!
P.S. I should mention that this volume is a sequel to