|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 349 June 7, email@example.com||Victoria, B.C.|
The responses of taxa to a single prescribed burn are frequently documented in the fire literature. However, land managers need to understand how the repeated use of fire over many years may produce long-term changes in the composition and structure of fire-adapted systems. The Nature Conservancy has owned and managed the 4.5ha Yellow Island preserve in the San Juan Islands since 1980. Of particular note are the native grasslands on the island, dominated by Roemer's fescue (Festuca roemeri), great camas (Camassia leichtlinii), and a diversity of other forbs. This habitat has been the focus of a variety of experiments on restoration techniques, as well as studies tracking ecological changes for over 20 years.
A series of experiments has examined the effects of fire on the composition of native and non-native species. One of the highest quality grasslands was burned in late summer, first in 1987, and again in 1996, 1998, and 2002. The responses of different species to each fire were complex, varying in direction, magnitude, and duration. However, several patterns have recurred following repeated burns that suggest trends which may be generalized to other similar systems in the Puget Trough/Georgia Basin ecosystem. These trends include:
A second series of studies has focused on developing effective means for controlling and removing invading trees and shrubs, and on limiting non-native grasses and forbs. Methods have included a variety of manual, mechanical, and chemical techniques. We have also tested several approaches for restoring native grassland species in areas where they had been excluded by competing woody plant growth. Even when abundant native seed sources exist in close proximity, non-native species usually establish more quickly following removal of trees and shrubs, and continue to dominate for many years. As a result, out- planting of propagated plants has proven most effective in rapidly re-establishing native species. Greatest success has been achieved in establishing a dense fescue matrix that appears to exclude many invasive species. Current work is now focusing on establishing a diverse forb component within the grass matrix.
Portions of this research were summarized in an article that recently appeared in Douglasia:
On the world map of lichenology, the northern Mediterranean would have to be coloured in as one of the better-known areas. Italy in particular has a long lichenological tradition reaching back into the 19th century. However, while volumes of individual taxonomic papers and a very good lichen flora have been produced for this area (the latter albeit in Esperanto), the Mediterranean area could not be characterized as over-saturated with identification literature, especially from the standpoint of an English speaker. This book is presented as the first in a series of "practical guides" to the lichens of Italy with the aim of ultimately leading up to a single, English-language Italian lichen flora.
The book starts off with an colourful introduction to the pros and cons of the terms terricolous and epigaeous, and an overview of the terricolous lichen vegetation typology in Italy. We are also given a history of the development of the various regional taxonomic databases and international programmes, and, with an ever-so-slight ideological bent, warned of the dangers of globalization in taxonomy (lest we be left with ".swards of young lichenologists from Italy to Singapore eating the same taxonomical BigMac"). Only a brief introduction into lichenological terminology is provided, though its brevity is somewhat offset by a glossary (unfortunately not illustrated) at the back of the book.
The rest of the book consists of a set of five keys, to fruticose, foliose, squamulose, crustose and leprose lichens, respectively. Each key is essentially printed twice. The first set of five keys (pages 37-251) provides the dichotomies in relatively large print (12-pt. font) with a complete diagnosis (in about 10-pt. font) each time a species is keyed out. To the left of each diagnosis is a 3 cm map of Italy with the areas shaded in which the species is known or expected to occur. In the second set of keys, individual keys are provided to fruticose, squamulose and crustose lichens, respectively, for each of four vertical life zone categories: subalpine-alpine acidic, subalpine- alpine basic, Mediterranean-montane acidic, and Mediterranean-montane basic. The second set of keys is condensed in small text (about 10 pt.) and without species accounts.
The book is slightly unconventional in its character in that large parts are assembled from Internet resources available for some time now in the form of the ITALIC database (http://dbiodbs.univ.trieste.it/). This rather rich online resource is replete with hundreds of colour photographs, including many of species not illustrated anywhere else, and can in itself be highly recommended. The database-to-book metamorphosis has not been entirely without glitches, but it is made clear in the introduction that it was not the authors' intent to create a classic, traditional flora. All of the information provided in the book is also available online and regularly updated there. The authors preempt the question as to why they printed a book instead of leaving it all online: the fate of databases is linked to the fate of people and department budgets, and books, "while bulky and rigid, still may enjoy a longer, safer life-span".
It is difficult to criticize a book that is meant to be a safe repository for an ongoing online project and at the same time the first assembled set of keys, in English, to the lichens of a larger Mediterranean region. However, there must be room for a little criticism. The double printing of the keys (triple, if you count the ITALIC random access key) is at best inefficient. When using the book, I find that I concentrate on understanding one key with as many species as possible so as to increase the chances of finding a correct fit. The Mediterranean is not exempt from the common phenomenon of supposedly well-understood lichens occurring in unlikely places, and so I hesitate to use keys based on vertical zones. From an organizational standpoint, I would have liked to have seen the keys printed only once, en bloc, as is now the case in the second half of the book, and the diagnoses and comments for each species in one alphabetical list at the end. This would not only have reduced the size of the book by at least sixty pages, it would also address what I would see as an additional deficiency, namely the lack of an annotated species catalogue (the species, keyed out as they are, are not readily referenced as would be the case were they alphabetically arranged). Another drawback is that the maps are small and whole regions are shaded in where a lichen may only have a few occurrences. This loss of resolution is however the same on the Internet ITALIC version.
On the positive side, we have an English set of keys to the 439 terricolous lichen species of Italy and a useful new reference to a subset of the lichens of the Mediterranean. The descriptions are very detailed, with information on many characters typically neglected elsewhere (ascus and conidial characters, lists of secondary lichen substances in addition to spot tests). With a visit to the ITALIC website, we even have colour photos to accompany the descriptions. The book is altogether a valuable reference for anybody working on soil crusts in Mediterranean regions and a will be a valuable back-up reference for those of us stalking the wild lichen in the dry steppe of western North America (but only as an additional reference, lest we also be lulled into biting into the same taxonomic BigMac).
The application deadline for the following position has been extended to 1 September 2005. We welcome inquiries during the forthcoming Evolution 2005 meeting, although no interviews will be conducted until after 1 September.
World-class Outdoor Opportunities!
The University of Alaska Museum of the North and the Department of Biology & Wildlife at the University of Alaska Fairbanks seek qualified applicants for a tenure-track, Assistant-Professor position as Curator of the Herbarium. Successful candidates are expected to: establish a vigorous, extramurally funded research program complementing the University's programs; curate the herbarium; teach one course per year (Systematic Botany or a specialized course); and advise undergraduate and graduate students. The position will also be associated with the Institute of Arctic Biology. A newly expanded museum and laboratory, greenhouse, core laboratory for nucleic acid research, and supercomputer facilities are available. Opportunities exist to use field areas such as the Bonanza Creek/Poker Creek and Toolik LTER sites. Preferred applicants will have a strong background in developing, managing, and using museum collections and in a specialized research area (which is flexible). An earned Ph.D. is mandatory, and postdoctoral experience is preferred. Applicants who can successfully implement their vision for how traditional collections can be used on the leading edges of science are especially encouraged to apply. Laboratory space and startup funds are included. Further information about the University and Museum is available at http://www.uaf.edu/museum/, http://mercury.bio.uaf.edu/ , and http://www.iab.uaf.edu/about.php . Applications should include: a completed applicant form (http://www.alaska.edu/hr/forms/hr_employmentforms.xml); curriculum vitae; three letters of reference; and separate summaries of interests and experience in research, curation, and teaching.
Please send complete application package by 1 September 2005 to Curator of the Herbarium Search, c/o UAF Human Resources, P.O. Box 757860, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775- 7860. Questions about this announcement can be addressed to Molly Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The University of Alaska is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.
Send submissions to email@example.com
BEN is archived at http://www.ou.edu/cas/botany-micro/ben/