BEN
BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS
ISSN 1188-603X


No. 380 June 28, 2007 aceska@telus.net Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2

HONORARY DOCTORATE FOR WILLAM J. (BILL) CODY

The doyen of Canadian botanists, William J. Cody, received the honorary Dr.Sc. degree from his Alma Mater, the McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario) on June 5, 2007.

Honorary Degree Citation for William J. Cody, Dr.Sc. h.c.:

William James (Bill) Cody was born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1922. He grew up in Hamilton during the Depression. During summers, he worked on his Uncle Bruce's fruit farm near St. David's in the Niagara Peninsula. He always enjoyed the outdoors, but it was with the help of McMaster University's Professor Lulu Gaiser that his love for plants grew. Bill received his Bachelor's Degree from McMaster University in 1946.

That same year, Bill joined the Canada Department of Agriculture at the Central Experimental Farm, in Ottawa, as Junior Agricultural Assistant. He was subsequently promoted to Senior Agricultural Assistant, Technical Officer and then Research Assistant. His enthusiasm for the outdoors, led him to travel extensively during the summer months across nine Provinces and two Territories. During these excursions, he collected over 35, 000 plant specimens. He has published over 343 articles including books, scientific papers, and popular articles. He is Canada's leading expert on the flora of the Yukon and is an Honorary Research Associate with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Bill was appointed Curator of the Vascular Plant Herbarium in 1959. He held this position for 28 years. Under his supervision it became the largest vascular plant herbarium in Canada with more than one million specimens, including the thousands collected by him personally. The herbarium provides a basis for research and identification of economically important plants in Canada.

Officially retiring in 1987, after 41 years of service, Bill continues to go to the office. His expertise in identifying specimens and his knowledge is sought after by the younger generation of botanists. He remains an internationally recognized authority in Canada and continues to contribute to the development of the collection.

He joined the Ottawa Field-Naturalist Club when he arrived in Ottawa in 1946. The position of Business Manager of a scientific journal, The Canadian Field-Naturalist has been his for over 50 years. His duties include managing finances, monitoring stock, billing for reprints and public relations.

Bill was married for 47 years to Lois and together they raised five children: David, Margaret, Leslie, Douglas and Gordon. Having sung in a Barber Shop Quartet and Church Choir, his joy of music is very evident. Bill's baritone voice can be heard resonating throughout the halls of his office and apartment building. He often has a pun or quip on the tip of his tongue.

In recent years, Bill had the opportunity to return to the Yukon four times. Each time, he took one of his children to help him collect and log specimens in order to determine range extensions and also to let them experience a place that had been a large part of his life.

Bill is very proud of his family heritage. His father, William MacPherson Cody was the first appointed anesthetist to the Hamilton General Hospital. Also, his second cousin, 3 times removed, was William Frederick Cody, known to most as "Buffalo Bill" Cody, a famous hero of the American Wild West.

Among the tributes awarded to Bill are: the Lawson Medal, most prestigious award of the Canadian Botanical Association (1997); the Distinguished Technical Communication Award of the Society for Technical Communications (1997); Induction into the McMaster University Alumni Gallery (2002); The Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal (2002); and the Yukon Biodiversity Awareness Award (2006).


THE ONGOING DESTRUCTION OF TURKEY'S LARGEST UPLAND MIRE

From: Richard Payne, Warren Eastwood & Dan Charman [originally published in the International Mire Conservation Group Newsletter 2007/2, page 5-6. http://www.imcg.net/ ]

Peatlands in Turkey are rare ecosystems of high conservation value. The first systematic survey of peatland plants identified five species new to Turkey and one species new to science (Byfield & ’zhatay 1997, Scholz & Byfield 2000).

Despite this importance many mires have been destroyed by peat cutting and drainage; the total remaining peatland area is probably no more than 30 km2 («ayci et al. 1988, ’z 1996). The majority of peatlands are fens and only one large ombrotrophic bog has been documented. This site, the SŁrmene AgaÁbaļi Yaylasi peatland lies in the Soganli Dag Mountains of Northeast Turkey just to the south of the coastal Black Sea town of SŁrmene. High local rainfalltogether with the elevation of the site (2000 m asl )has allowed blanket peat formation to a depth of over 3 m. Dominant plant species are Sphagnum palustre, S. fuscum and Carex spp.

The site includes several plant species that are extremely rare in Turkey including Carex pauciflora, Drosera rotundifolia, Eriophorum angustifolium, Lycopodiella inundata, Rhynchospora alba, Andromeda polifolia and Carex lasiocarpa, the latter two are only known from this site.

Many plant species characteristic of northern European peatlands may reach their southernmost limit in this mire making it important from a biogeographic point of view (Byfield and ’zhatay 1997). Other groups such as insects and microorganisms have not been surveyed systematically, but given the isolation of the site it is likely that many uncommon species may be present.

The site furthermore is valuable as an archive of the past environments of the mire and the region. Previous research has investigated the dendrochronological and pollen record from the site (Aytug et al. 1975).

Currently we are investigating the vegetation and climate record as part of the ENVNET project: http://www.gees.bham.ac.uk/research/ENVNET/

SŁrmene AgaÁbaļi Yaylasi as the name implies, is a "yayla" or seasonally-occupied village where the inhabitants practise transhumance and occupy the upland mountainous region only during the summer months returning to lower elevations during the harsh winter months.

Despite this and despite the uniqueness of the mire, the site is severely threatened by human activities, primarily peat cutting for fuel. Peat cutting at the site is a comparatively recent phenomenon.

Exactly when the first cutting took place is uncertain; responses from local people depended on who is asked and varied between approximately 20 and 50 years ago (i.e. 1950s to 1980s). There is no indication that peat cutting is a very long established activity as is commonly the case in Western Europe.

Peat is removed from throughout the site by people from seven surrounding summer villages and used as domestic fuel. No trade in peat is known. Peat is cut by hand into blocks approximately 4-5 cm thick. Cutting takes place in two general ways. In many areas peat has been cut by digging holes down into the peat surface, these holes vary in size up to about 3 m across. In other areas peat cutting has followed an approach more similar to traditional peat cutting in northern Europe with cutting from a marginal peat face up to 1.5 m high, the majority of the most recent cuttings are of this type. Cut blocks are left to dry on the surface or piled up into heaps.

Although peat cutting is solely for domestic use and is practised using manual techniques, the impacts are severe. Up to 20 people have been observed working the site at any one time (Byfield & ’zhatay, 1997). During one visit in August 2006 we estimated the size of the cut peat piles on the surface of the mire and in the surrounding area. Over 350 piles were counted with an estimated volume of 120 m3.

Although some of the piles may be from previous years, peat was being removed actively at the time of visit so this figure may be an underestimate of the volume of peat removed in a year.

Peat cutting has drastically affected the site. Cut holes are found throughout the site and there are no large areas of deep peat that are free of signs of past cutting. There has not been a systematic attempt to drain the site but areas near the cut faces are very dry, water tables were a metre or more below the surface in August 2006.

The unusual pattern of peat cutting by holes may have resulted in less hydrological impact than if all peat had been removed from cut faces at the site margins. Peat holes left by this cutting revegetate and in a few cases a continuous Sphagnum cover has been established. Where peat has been removed from the site margins revegetation has been limited.

Peat cutting is the most drastic human-impact on the site; other impacts are also significant, however. The areas around the peatland are used for cattle grazing. Cattle graze the margins of the mire and some areas show signs of trampling and cattle faeces.

There is a significant amount of litter across the site, particularly plastic bags and bottles. In some areas peat cuttings have been used as tips for larger amounts of rubbish.

It is now a decade since the conservation importance of Turkish peatlands and this mire in particular were highlighted by Byfield & ’zhatay (1997). The destruction of the mire has continued and perhaps even accelerated in the intervening years. If the mire is to be conserved even in a semi-natural state, conservation action will need to be taken in the very near future.

Preventing the cutting would not be straightforward, as peat clearly plays an important role as a domestic energy source for the villages concerned. Furthermore, the remoteness of the site would make direct prohibition very difficult to enforce if the local people were unwilling to cease peat cutting.

In the short-term the western areas of the site could be preserved and cutting could continue in the eastern areas of the site which are already highly degraded and unlikely to be restorable to anything like a natural state. In the longer-term, replacements for peat as fuel should be investigated. Villagers report that the area was forested as recently as the early 20th century; sustainable forestry may be practical in more sheltered areas of the surrounding vicinity.

References

Aytug, B., Menev, N. & Edis, G. 1975.
SŻrmene-AgaÁbaļi Dolaylari Ladin Ormaninin Tarihi ve Gelecegi TŘBITAK Tarim ve Ormancilik Araļtirma Grubu, Series 39, Ankara.
Byfield, A. & ’zhatay, N. 1997.
A future for Turkey's peatlands: A conservation strategy for Turkey's peatland heritage. Dogal Hayati Koruma Dernegi, Istanbul.
«ayci, G., Ataman, Y., Řnver, I., & Munsuz, N. 1988.
Distribution and horticultural values of the peats in Anatolia, Acta Horticulturae 238: 189-196.
’z, D. (1996)
Peatlands in Turkey. In: Lappalainen, E. editor, Global Peat Resources International Peat Society.
Scholz, H. and Byfield, A. (2000)
Three grasses new to Turkey. Turkish Journal of Botany 24: 263-267.

NEW BOOK: THE CAUCASUS AND ITS FLOWERS

From: Sergei Yazvenko [yazvenko@islandnet.com]
Holubec, Vojtech & Pavel Krivka. 2006.
The Caucasus and its Flowers. Published by LOXIA, Prague. 390 p. ISBN 80-9025-413-6 [hard cover] Price: US$ 110.00
Available from:
Summerfield Books (http://www.summerfieldbooks.com). The Arches, Main Street, Brough, Cumbria, CA17 4AX, UK; Ph. +44 (017683) 41577; Fax: +44 (017683) 41687; e-mail: info@summerfieldbooks.co.uk

This is the first illustrated work in English on the superb mountain flora of a magnificent range of the Caucasus that lies between Europe and Asia, between the Black and Caspian Seas. And what a beautiful work it is! This is not a formal "Flora of the Caucasus". The book is aimed mainly "at lovers of mountain flora and growers of rock garden plants", at the authors state. So it is written in an informal relaxed style. This format gives the authors the flexibility to place a photo of a street sweeper with his broom to illustrate the uses of Limonium meyeri or a photo of a sheep slaughtered for dinner to show how hospitable the local people are. Still, the book contains an ocean of valuable information for any botanist interested in the Caucasian flora or vegetation. A long Introduction covers the history of botanical exploration (look for a long list of German names!), climate, geology and relief, flora and vegetation, and even practical tips on access to the Caucasus.

All sections are illustrated by marvelous photos, which are the main draw. The systematic section covers plant species; out of about 6300 plant species recognized in the Caucasus, the book has beautiful illustrations for over 500 species.

Most of the photos are excellent, taken in the wild during the extensive travel of the authors, so the reader can often see the landscape in which a plant grows. The descriptions are brief and informative and include a Latin name, 1-2 synonyms, and a paragraph covering morphology, ecology and distribution. Distribution maps for many taxa are very useful.

Such a splendid piece of work cannot be without glitches, the main being that the spelling of Latin names, though generally accurate, still needs another go-through ("Parotia" persica, Rhamnus "immeretina", Rhamnus "palasii", etc.). However, these bugs do not diminish the feeling of elation when reading through the book and meditating on its hundreds of photos.

The book is worth every penny of its price.


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