|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 344 March 14, email@example.com||Victoria, B.C.|
George W. Douglas died February 10, 2005 after a particularly severe, but mercifully brief bout of cancer. This was his sixth attack of cancer in the past 25 years - the others he was able to fight off, against the odds.
George's love to nature had its roots years spent at the base of Burnaby Mountain. Born on June 22, 1938, in New Westminster, BC, he grew up on North Road in the Burquitlam neighbourhood. When He died he was living on North Road in Duncan, BC. During his teenage years, George was nuts about sports and played basketball in high school. He first went to University on a sport scholarship: track, golf and basketball!
George was a well-known botanist and ecologist in northwestern North America. In his post-graduate work he studied the ecology of high elevation areas in the North Cascades of western WA and S BC (Cathedral Lakes Park). His supervising professors were Ronald J. Taylor (Western Washington University) and Lawrence Bliss (University of Alberta). While working towards his doctorate, he had a number of part-time jobs: mill worker, cannery worker, abbatoir worker, ambulance driver and taxi driver. Each one made him truly appreciate being able to work at something he loved.
As a consulting ecologist in the 1970s, he conducted many of the ecological studies in the newly established Kluane National Park, Yukon Territory. This led to a series of journal publications on the vegetation and flora of southwest Yukon.
Although he began his career as an ecological consultant, after his first bout with cancer, he semi-retired and dedicated his work time to botany. Late in his career he joined the British Columbia public service as chief botanist for the BC Conservation Data Centre.
His passion for botany and dogged determination to see projects through to completion led to many key botanical publications. Of note are his treatments of the Asteraceae in British Columbia, his works on the rare vascular plants of both the Yukon and British Columbia, and his leadership in the Illustrated Flora of British Columbia. In addition to these major achievements, George published numerous individual taxonomic treatments, range extensions, and status reports. George also spearheaded or contributed to several high-quality 'glossy' books, including Kluane, pinnacle of the Yukon (1980), Plants of Northern British Columbia (1992), Plants of the Southern Interior of British Columbia (1995), and Mountain Plants of the Pacific Northwest (1995). The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia would not have been possible without George's leadership and commitment. He was an excellent field botanist. Broad field experience formed his approach to herbarium taxonomy, which was marked by comprehension of the literature, curiosity, a desire for simplicity, and a healthy skepticism of nomenclatural arcana and obsessive-compulsive behaviour.
A prolific author and hard-working botanist, George was able to balance this with other aspects of his life. He thoroughly enjoyed golf and gardening, good wine and food, and fancy automobiles. He was not immune to gaming and playing the stock market. He especially loved rambling and botanizing in the mountains, even latterly when he was not a healthy man. He wore a carapace of gruffness and could be curmudgeonly, but he had a fine sense of humour and of the absurd.
[For the photo of George W. Douglas with his cat and their favourite reading pose, visit http://www.ou.edu/cas/botany-micro/ben/images/gwdouglas.jpg]
[Added somewhat later (12 October 2005) is a complete bibliography.]
This contribution is dedicated to the memory of Dr. George W. Douglas who did so much for the definition, classification and tracking of British Columbia's rare plant species.
Mill Hill is a small park near Victoria, BC, one of about 24 parks administered by the Capital Regional District (CRD) on southeastern Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands. Rare vascular plants were inventoried on Mill Hill in the context of the Mill Hill Regional Park Restoration Plan completed in 2002. The work was commissioned by CRD Parks and supported by the Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk, a Government of Canada program.
Mill Hill was long known to local naturalists and botanists as a locality of rare plants and it was easy to gain the perception that an inventory could only turn up some more occurrences for already known species, but would not result in significant additions to the list of rare species (i.e. the species that are listed as RED or BLUE in the 2003 vesrion of the BC Conservation Data Centre's list). It therefore came as a surprise that by the summer of 2004 there was not only a five-fold increase in rare plant occurrences (occurrence roughly at the subpopulation level), but also a 40% increase in the number of rare species encountered. All occurrences were recorded with a hand-held GPS unit and later mapped on a color orthophoto.
Of 13 red and blue-listed species, a total of 130 occurrences were located in the first season (2003) and an additional 30 occurrences in the second season. Searches and counts for the two most abundant blue-listed species, Isoetes nuttallii and Trifolium depauperatum, were discontinued after the first season as some subpopulations numbered between 500 and 3,000 individuals and would have taken a disproportionate amount of time to track.
In conclusion, studies in Mill Hill Regional Park demonstrate that in-depth botanical inventories can add significant quantity and detail to our knowledge, even in areas which may be assumed to be floristically well-known. Mill Hill contains an amazing proportion and diversity of our rare flora, considering it is only 60 hectares in size. In addition to being under attack from invasive plants, especially Cytisus scoparius (L.) Link, this park has recently been "sandwiched" between two new up-scale housing developments. Further, some of its most imperiled rare species, especially Aster curtus, and Balsamorhiza deltoidea, are strongly impacted through grazing by an overabundance of native deer, apparently displaced by land development, and also through grazing by introduced eastern cottontail.
Prostrate annual weed from South America. So far known only as a nursery weed confined to imported potting soil from a number of nurseries in Greater Vancouver and one in Salmon Arm. Collected once as a casual from Surrey where it no doubt arose from nursery soil in landscape plantings (Lomer 94- 243).
European weed. Waif. Collected at least once before in Victoria: (Lomer 93-259).
Considered a rare native plant in the Osoyoos area, but I believe all BC populations are introductions from elsewhere. This maybe the first collection from Vancouver Island. It is a rare roadside weed in the Vancouver area.
European waif is much like E. cheiranthoides L. but petals are bigger and leaves are generally lobed.
Collected once before by railroad tracks in New Westminster (Lomer 90-021).
So far just a rare casual in BC.
Prostrate European weed. Several in one section of Mrs. Dart's garden. I would highly recommend a visit to Darts Hill if you love plants.
This rare orchid was known in BC only from limited sites in the Mara-Shuswap area. It was growing with Carex crawei Dewey, Eleocharis quinqueflora (F.X. Hartmann) Schwarz, Carex flava L. I suspect it can be found in other calcareous fens in the Rocky Mt. Trench.
This European introduction has been confused in the past with native members of Luzula section Luzula but can be easily told from similar native plants by its creeping stolons. It forms dense multi-stemmed patches compared to the discrete clumps of our native species in section Luzula. Also collected in Greater Vancouver: New Westminster (Lomer 4682), Langley (Lomer 4690).
Introduced from Eurasia and first found in the Vancouver area in 1986. Expected to spread on Vancouver Island.
Introduced from E North America. It was cited from Sproat Lake by John Macoun in 1888 and apparently persisted though it was not noted since that time. It looks like it is P. r. ssp. rigidulum with purplish tints.
Much like Pellaea glabella ssp. simplex Butters, but it is a more dwarfed plant with wider, less divided blue-green leaves that tend to hug the rock surface on which it grows unlike the more erect P. g. ssp. simplex. It is also diploid with 64 spores per sporangium.
This is the more aggresive European haplotype with a more bushy inflorescence and stiffer stems than the native race. It is perhaps the first collection from the Vancouver area. The native race is very rare in the Fraser delta, known wild from near Steveston and Ladner where it is is confined to a small area. The Reifel Island bird sanctuary population was planted though it may occur natively away from the bird viewing area as well. I have not yet checked if it is the native or European race.
Sticky annual weed with rather sweet fruit. Rare waif in Greater Vancouver: Burnaby (Lomer 95-212).
Previously known in BC ony from a K. Beamish UBC collection in 1957 at probably the same site (Beamish 7856). Several collections along the Pacific Crest Trail (Lomer 5277, 5278, 5284, 5301, 5307). Previously known as P. sawatchense Small, which I still prefer.
European introduction with trailing stems and flowers with mostly 4 petals. Seen from two sites on Prevost. Previously collected from the Vancouver area: North Vancouver (Lomer 88- 094), Burnaby (Lomer 99-095), Richmond (Lomer 4296).
Frequent native grass east of the Coast Mts. in BC, but this population is the only one native on the west side. Arising, no doubt, from seeds washed naturally down the Fraser. It has been collected as a casual introduction in sand dredgings and road sweepings in the Vancouver area.
It seems this inconspicuous little plant (formerly Scirpus pumilus Vahl) is much more common than originally thought. It is considered rare in BC, but was collected at several wet calcareous sites in SE BC in 2004: Kootenay Nat. Park, Paint Pots (Lomer 5241), Rocky Mt. Trench, Windermere Creek (Lomer 5256), Yoho Park, Kicking Horse River & Hwy 1 (Lomer 5510).
Weedy Eurasian annual grass. Probably first collection from Vancouver Island. It is rare, but established around Vancouver.
European weed, much like V. blattaria L. but more glandular and mostly more than one flower per bract. Casual in Fraser Valley: Hope (Lomer 5037).
Probably native to eastern Asia. This may be the first west coast collection in BC. Known previously from Greater Vancouver and Chemainus.
All collections will be deposited in the UBC herbarium.
Alpine environments have long held allure for ecologists and naturalists. The stunning scenery and the verdant flower meadows are made that much sweeter by the efforts required to reach them and the solitudes in which they are found. George Douglas was one such admirer, smitten by the highlands, who spent a good portion of his early career describing the alpine ecosystems of the Cascades and Yukon.
British Columbia and its neighbours are blessed with an abundance of alpine environments. 12.5% of the landmass of British Columbia is categorized as alpine or subalpine. These areas form a significant and conspicuous part of the landscape and have received considerable classification work at a local level since the late 1960s. However, a broader synthesis of alpine ecosystems has been accorded little effort. The father of Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem Classification in British Columbia, Dr. Vladamir Krajina, noted that there could be three alpine zones but did not provide any further differentiation (Krajina 1965). Similarly, Jim Pojar provided a rough sketch of three major alpine divisions in the "Ecosystems of British Columbia".
Currently, the biogeoclimatic mapping for the province shows only "AT - Alpine Tundra" from the Tatsenshini to the Flathead. The lack of a comprehensive treatment of Alpine is a glaring omission in our ability to expand ecological knowledge of these areas. A compilation of existing plot data, field notes, published descriptions, and contemporary field sampling supports the existence of 3 major biogeoclimatic divisions of the Alpine.
The CMA zone occurs throughout the windward Coast Mountains and islands from Washington to Alaska above the Mountain Hemlock parkland (MHp). In the south, the CMA starts around 1600 m, but this falls to 900 m in the north. The zone is characterized by a maritime snow pack; very deep, dense, relatively warm, and with abundant melt features. The tree line is depressed by the heavy and prolonged snow cover and much of the region is covered by ice at the elevation of true alpine. Therefore, the "Alpine" is mostly extensive subalpine heath snow beds where tree patches occur on elevated rocky knobs that accumulate less snow. Summers are relatively cool and moderate compared to other alpine zones because of summer cloud cover and oceanic influence. The coastal Alpine is distinguished from other zones by the pervasiveness of mountain-heathers in almost all landscape positions. In the south (< 55ø latitude), Cassiope mertensiana and Phyllodoce empetriformis form the widespread zonal community and dominate the subalpine heath. On the mainland, north of 55ø latitude, Harrimanella stelleriana becomes a co-dominant with Cassiope mertensiana. On the Queen Charlotte Islands, Cassiope lycopoidioides is conspicuous.
Late snowbeds dominated by Carex nigricans or Saxifraga tolmiei, meadows of Carex spectablis and seepages of Caltha leptosepala and Leptarrhena pyrolifolia are common but typically notof large aerial extent.
Brett et al. (1998) provide a thorough description of community types that occur inthe southern portion of the CMA. The diversity of community types and species is relatively low compared to inland areasbecause of the over-arching effects of the heavy snow pack.
The Interior Mountain-heather Alpine Zone (IMA) occupies the southern interior alpine above the Engelmann Spruce - Subalpine Ffir parkland (ESSFp), starting at elevations as high as 2500m in the south to about 1800m at its northern limit. The IMA includes the alpine of the Columbia Mountains, the Southern Rocky Mountains to the vicinity of McBride, the Northern Cascades and the most southerly areas of the lee Coast Mountains from the vicinity of Goldbridge southward. The snowpack in the IMA is classically alpine; generally deep, cool, consisting of well-consolidated snow layers of variable thickness and density with a basal depth hoar layer. Deep snow layers and relatively warm winter temperatures mean that ground-freezing and cryogenic processes are limited. Average summer temperatures are likely similar to northern alpine areas (because of the compensating factor of higher elevation of the alpine environment) but day length is shorter and extreme high temperatures may be more frequent.
The zonal vegetation of the IMA is less consistent than the CMA, but mountain-heathers are typically common in moist and wetter regions. Phyllodoce glanduliflora is common throughout much of the IMA and is typically part of the zonal ecosystems along with P. empetriformis and C. mertensiana. A common and diagnostic associate of mountain-heather communities in the IMA is Antennaria lanata.
The wetter regions of the IMA, especially like those in the area of Revelstoke, are coastal-like in many respects but still contain species that are of interior distribution. Moist and wet subzones are the most diverse alpine areas in the province and often support expanses of forb rich meadows. In drier subzones, Dryas octopetala or other dwarf woody species such as Salix cascadensis or Vaccinium scoparium and V. caespitosum are more common.
The BAFA occurs mostly north of 54ø latitude but trails as far south as 51ø on the lee side of the Coast Mountains in the Chilcotin. The southern BAFA occurs above the ESSF parkland at elevations of 2000m in the south to 1700m in the north. And, it also occupies the alpine above the Spruce-Willow-Birch Scrub (SWBs) at elevations of 1600 m. This is the largest alpine zone by area with extensive, well-vegetated tundra occupying large areas of the northern plateaux. The majority of the BAFA has a thin and windblown, tundra-like snow pack but some areas such as the coast transition of the Nass and Iskut valleys above the very wet Interior Cedar - Hemlock and the McGregor Mountains above the very wet Sub-Boreal Spruce zones have deeper snowpacks. All areas have cold winters and ground freezing and cryoturbation features are likely wherever the snowpack is thin. Wind sorting of the snow pack seems more prevalent here because of cold unbonded snow pack and wind-exposed mountain ranges.
Festuca altaica is the characteristic species of the BAFA, dominating zonal ecosystems in southern and mid-latitude subzones. In the northern BAFA, this species only occurs on warm aspects and is replaced by Carex microchaeta - Salix polaris & S. reticulata communities on zonal sites. In very dry regions, such as the lee slopes of the northern Rocky Mountains, Dryas integrifolia communities are widespread.
These new alpine Zones will appear on subsequent versions of biogeoclimatic mapping, beginning with the release of a new digital map in April 2005, and a new zone map shortly afterwards. Designation of further division of zones into subzones is on- going and will likely be completed for the southern interior within a year and elsewhere as continued fieldwork and analysis confirm subzone types and boundaries. A classification of alpine and subalpine plant communities is also on-going. Final draft descriptions for all of components will be posted on the BECWeb: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hre/becweb/index.htm
George Douglas was an excellent gourmet cook. He didn't have one favourite recipe, but many. He often said he "thought this up on the way home". The following recipe was enjoyed many times over, usually as an appetizer.
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