|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 297 October 31, email@example.com||Victoria, B.C.|
Pelkosenniemi, a remote small town located in northern Finland (67 deg. N) is surrounded by north-boreal landscape with extensive wetlands of aapa-mire type, a priority habitat for conservation in the European Union (Raeymakers 1999). In early 2001 and in August 2002, judicial hearings were arranged in Pelkosenniemi, with arguments presented in support or against constructing a large water reservoir for the production of hydro-electric power, covering the landscape now composed of a mosaic of wetlands, esker forests and riverside meadows and finally forming an artificial lake - Vuotos reservoir - 240 sq.km in size. The conservationists, researchers and biology students from the universities of Helsinki and Oulu, stress the specific ecological values of the area:
The history of building or planning large hydro power reservoirs in northern Finland goes back to 1960s when water levels were raised in Sompio Lapland (80 to 100 km N of the area now under dispute) forming two huge lakes Lokka (417 sq.km) and Porttipahta (214 sq.km). The present plans of Kemijoki power company (http://www.kemijoki.fi/) continue this tradition and would result in a serious loss of wetlands in eastern Lapland. Artificial flooding would destroy the vegetational variety of peatland complexes and their fine surface patterns which are a product of a long-term succession of several millennia (Kuhry et al. 1993, Makila et al. 2001).
The legal battle continues and the case of Vuotos appears to be a classic conflict between conservational and economic approaches and values (see Joosten and Clarke 2002, chapter 3). The case is expected to be settled later on this year by the Finnish Supreme Administrative Court.
Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG), Canada's largest botanical garden, is seeking a Canadian Botanical Gardens Education Coordinator. Based at RBG (Hamilton/Burlington, Ontario), this position will work with botanical gardens, universities, government agencies and other stakeholders in all regions of Canada to prepare and deliver a major program of public education, plant conservation projects and related resources. This project is part of a major international program of education and conservation on plant biodiversity. The Coordinator will develop resource packages, compile information and other resources for teachers, other agencies and the public, in cooperation with other institutions. This position will also produce web site material, newsletters and other communications and publications in support of plant conservation projects. The Coordinator will participate in endangered species recovery, and develop new outreach programs and sustainable development programs by botanical gardens for local communities and schools including development of funding options and support.
The successful candidate will have an undergraduate or graduate degree in botany, ecology, environmental education or a related discipline, and have documented verbal and written competency in both English and French. They will have experience as a public speaker and communicator, a demonstrated track record in fund raising, and an ability to work on multiple track projects at one time. They will also be a team player with an ability to work with staff, volunteers and the public alike. This position includes some travel. The successful candidate must be able to legally work in Canada, and be available in January, 2003.
Salary range is from $38,872 CAN per year to $43,600 CAN per year to start, plus a full benefits package for the four year term of the contract, plus a programmed cost of living increase each year.
Please send your resume in confidence to Susan Ingram, Human Resources Director c/o RBG (address below) or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org by no later than November 15, 2002
Royal Botanical Gardens is an equal opportunity employer. Only those selected for an interview will be contacted.
I have recently updated the Nelson Forest Region's Range program herbarium, and it is now available for consultation or study. The herbarium contains roughly 700 accessions, of which about 200 are grasses. The specimens are primarily from the grassland and associated riparian areas of the Rocky Mountain Trench and the Boundary (Kettle, Christian and Granby River valleys), with incidental specimens from farther afield. The earliest accession is dated 1937, and there are a number from the late 1940's. Contributors include Alf Bawtree, David Blundon, A. & O. Ceska, W.L. Eastham, Jim Milroy, Leon Pavlick, Bill Pringle, E.R. Smith, P.D. Warrington, and others. Some notable items are a Cannabis sativa from Rock Creek, and Schizachyrium scoparium from the Bull River. Contact information:
First, we should say that we are totally biased in favor of liverworts (hepatics), and so very pleased to see this new book making available more information on these lovely and interesting little plants.
The author of any field guide can never adequately satisfy the needs or wishes of all people who are the potential audience for the book. Therefore, decisions must be made at the outset as to what level of knowledge or expertise the particular handbook will be directed. Dr. W. B. (Wilf) Schofield's recent and long awaited Field Guide to the Liverwort Genera of Pacific North America comes as a welcome addition to the usually highly academic, scientific publications on these rather obscure yet fascinating plants. The book is clearly designed to make liverworts as accessible as possible to the interested lay person, while still providing detail to interest the botanist or biologist who wishes to add to their knowledge.
The Field Guide to Liverwort Genera may be considered a companion to an earlier popular handbook by W. B. Schofield, Some Mosses of British Columbia (1969 & 1992), but the two books take different approaches to their plants. In the moss book, Dr. Schofield describes and illustrates 116 species in 69 genera of BC mosses. The new liverwort book covers a broader geographical region, from Alaska to southern California. Also, it deals with a group of tiny plants that are usually difficult to correctly identify to species in the field, using only a hand lens.
Typically with liverworts, one needs to take fresh plants back to the lab, and use a dissecting microscope to view the different features of the upper and lower sides of whole plants (as liverworts are generally more or less "flattened"), along with a compound microscope to view slides of leaves and stems, for example, to see distinguishing characteristics of cells. From our own experience in the field when looking for liverworts, we tend to look first for the right habitats, and then for different colors or textures among the bryophytes, rather than for particular species. This Field Guide to Liverwort Genera will help with the next step, sorting the diversity of liverwort forms and identifying to genera with the help of a hand lens.
This new book focuses on 87 liverwort genera instead of individual species. The main features, habitats and distribution of each genus are described, along with interesting notes. Comparisons are also made to help distinguish similar-looking genera. For each genus there is an excellent full-page illustration of a common species that demonstrates typical generic features. Altogether, a wealth of valuable information is packed into each two-page description.
The treatment of the genera is preceded by a general discussion of the life history and flattened thallose or leafy form of liverworts. Part way through the text, there is an unexplained change in terminology from "liverwort" to the more scientific term "hepatic" that could initially confuse a person unfamiliar with botany. There is a very useful table comparing liverworts with mosses, to demonstrate how these two related types of plants differ physically. Dr. Schofield provides sound information on collecting and handling liverworts, and details on how to document collections to make them scientifically useful. The Introduction provides valuable illustrations of liverwort features essential in identifying the plants to genus or species, and there is a glossary to help with technical terms. There is a good discussion of the types of habitats and distribution of liverworts. As one becomes familiar with liverwort genera (and eventually, perhaps with species), understanding their habitats allows a person to know where to expect certain liverworts, and where to focus a search for a particular plant. The Introduction also provides a history of liverwort collecting in Pacific North America.
Eight pages of keys to identify genera precede the individual generic descriptions. Writing keys that work easily for all users is always a difficult task. Although the keys in this book are well thought out and useable, there are some points that initially could lead some users astray. For example, in Key V, couplet 22, some people may be able to see underleaves without a hand lens, while others may not. A few choices depend on the presence of perianths, but of course fertile plants may not always be conveniently available. However, in some cases where a decision could go either way, the keys provide safety catches, with alternate routes to get to the same genus. A useful technical addition to the keys might have been the addition of short, descriptive headings to assist the user in going back and forth among the different keys (for example, Key II: Thallose plants, or Key V: Leaves not lobed).
As with any key for a group of plants, one has to play around with it a bit, to get familiar with the terminology, the features to look for and how to make choices. Wilf Schofield is right when he states in the lead-in to the keys, "It must be emphasized that, especially in genera with many species and those that show considerable variation, a key can lead only to possibilities, and microscopic characteristics are needed to provide features that discriminate the genera. Species identification in liverworts is heavily dependent upon the use of microscopic characteristics."
In thinking about how to use this liverwort book, it does seem a bit physically large for a "field guide." It is about twice the size of the 1969 first edition guide to mosses, and less compact than it's second edition, so at about 18x25 cm and 1.5 cm thick, it will not easily fit into a pocket. It is, however, certainly a book that is very enjoyable to pick up and browse through, as well as being very useful for keying out and learning about liverwort genera. The illustrations are beautifully drawn and very useful. Heavier drawing in a couple of illustrations of thallose liverworts does unfortunately blacken out in places, apparently owing to the porosity of the paper and how it absorbed the ink. There is a list of liverwort species of North America at the back of the book. It would have been useful for a person using this book in British Columbia, or any of the states covered, if the book contained separate lists of genera and species that might be expected in the different jurisdictions, or perhaps simple distribution maps just for the genera.
If a person gets to the point where he or she is interested in learning and understanding liverwort species, then it will be necessary to work with microscopes and with far more detailed treatments, especially The Hepaticae and Anthocerotae of North America East of the Hundredth Meridian, by Dr. Rudolf M. Schuster, a monumental work of almost 6,000 pages in six volumes. Wilf Schofield's Field Guide to Liverwort Genera of Pacific North America would then serve as a guide to help anyone using the Schuster volumes to focus on West Coast genera.
The Field Guide to Liverwort Genera of Pacific North America conveys a feeling of appreciation and enthusiasm for liverworts, and essentially, an invitation to go find these plants, and learn about them and how they fit into the ecosystem. This is really important, since there is an unfortunate lack of sufficient funding for plant collecting and taxonomy in general. "Amateur" botanists in the true sense of the word's Latin origin, that is people who study plants out of "love" and interest, can make a significant contribution toward scientific understanding of liverworts -- provided that good records and accurate data are kept, as described by Wilf Schofield on pages 12 and 13 of the book. The author also wisely cautions any collectors of liverworts to be meticulously careful about their collecting practices, to avoid extirpating rare species from any location.
Overall, we congratulate Dr. Schofield on the publication of the Field guide to liverwort genera of Pacific North America, after his many years of dedicated work on bryophytes and his persistent efforts toward publication. Any minor issues we have mentioned do not detract at all from the quality of this very welcome addition to the literature on liverworts. The Field guide is scientific, but very approachable, and not dry and technical. The information and writing is an enjoyable balance between educational and entertaining. The book demonstrates well through its illustrations the incredible variety of fascinating forms found among liverworts. The only thing better is seeing how beautiful liverworts are in colour, in fresh plants under a hand lens or microscope.
[Dr. Wilf Schofield is Professor Emeritus of Botany at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC (cf. BEN # 168).]
Before any other influences began to fashion life and its lavish diversity, geological events created the initial environments - both physical and chemical - for the evolutionary drama that followed.
Drawing on case histories from around the world, Arthur Kruckeberg demonstrates the role of landforms and rock types in producing the unique geographical distributions of plants and in stimulating evolutionary diversification. His examples range throughout the rich and heterogeneous tapestry of the earth's surface: the dramatic variations of mountainous topography, the undulating ground and crevices of level limestone karst, and the subtle realm of sand dunes. He describes the ongoing evolutionary consequences of the geology-plant interface and the often underestimated role of geology in shaping climate.
Kruckeberg explores the fundamental connection between plants and geology, including the historical roots of geobotany, the reciprocal relations between geology and other environmental influences, geomorphology and its connection with plant life, lithology as a potent selective agent for plants, and the physical and biological influences of soils. Special emphasis is given to the responses of plants to exceptional rock types and their soils - serpentines, limestones, and other azonal (exceptional) substrates. Edaphic ecology, especially of serpentines, has been his specialty for years.
Kruckeberg's research fills a significant gap in the field of environmental science by connecting the conventionally separated disciplines of the physical and biological sciences. Geology and Plant Life is the result of more than forty years of research into the question of why certain plants grow on certain soils and certain terrain structures, and what happens when this relationship is disrupted by human agents. It will be useful to a wide spectrum of professionals in the natural sciences: plant ecologists, paleobiologists, climatologists, soil scientists, geologists, geographers, and conservation scientists, as well as serious amateurs in natural history.
Arthur R. Kruckeberg is the author of The Natural History of Puget Sound Country and Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest. He is professor emeritus of botany at the University of Washington [see BEN # 245 & # 246].