|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 421 February 4, email@example.com||Victoria, B.C.|
For the first time, the Canadian Botanical Association (CBA/ABC) and the international Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) are holding a joint annual conference in Ottawa (May 31 to June 5, 2010), hosted by the Canadian Museum of Nature. Fully synchronized programs will allow participants from both organizations to attend any of the concurrent sessions and participate in many joint conference activities.
With 2010 declared The International Year of Biodiversity by the United Nations, this gathering of botany specialists and natural history collection professionals will offer many exciting opportunities for "cross-fertilization" of ideas and transfer of knowledge between participants.
Detailed information can be found on the conference website:
We invite you to visit the site and register for the conference.
Come and join us!
Botany BC 2010 will be held in the stunningly beautiful Tofino area from the evening of Thursday May 27th through the morning of Sunday May 30th 2010. Presentations and meeting activities will be held in the Tofino Community Hall and the Tofino Botanical Gardens Foundation/Clayoquot Field Station and as usual, field trips to some very exciting areas of interest will also be on the agenda. The primary organizers for this year's Botany BC are Andy MacKinnon and Josie Osborne.
You can contact Elizabeth Easton at Elizabeth.Easton@gov.bc.ca if you are interested in being added to a list to receive notification when the website, with schedule and registration information, is available. Registrants from the last 2 BBC conferences (Muncho Lake and Powell River) are already included on this list.
Dr. Reid Moran was Curator of Botany at the San Diego Natural History Museum from 1957 to 1982. Dr. Moran died January 21 at age 93 in Lake County, California, where he had spent his final few years. He is survived by his daughter, Jenna Moran.
As an explorer of Baja California, he spent much of his time during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s traveling by truck, mule, and boat to the most remote and obscure places of the peninsula and its waters. He kept meticulous and often entertaining field notebooks documenting his travels and his botanical collections. In addition to his research expeditions in the peninsula, Reid gained a devoted following among museum members as a leader of field trips throughout Baja California. Moran's field notes are available online at http://bajaflora.org/MoranNotesSearch.aspx .
Moran earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley in 1951, after serving as a navigator in the Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1946. His research focused on the systematics of the Crassulaceae (Stonecrop Family), and in the flora of the peninsula of Baja California. He continued to produce significant scientific work for two decades after his official retirement.
In addition to his large body of technical research papers, he wrote the Flora of Guadalupe Island, Mexico, and the treatment of the Crassulaceae for the Flora of North America (in Vol. 8, published in 2009), and also co-authored (with Frank W. Gould--_Gould knew the grasses; I knew Baja) the Grasses of Baja California, Mexico, and (with Geoffrey A. Levin, his successor as curator) the Vascular Flora of Isla Socorro, Mexico.
Jane Goodall, in the internet supplement to her recent book Hope for Animals and Their World, says he was "for decades a sort of living myth in botanical exploration in Baja California" and called him "a truly dedicated field biologist whose work led to the restoration of an island."
Photo plates: http://bomi.ou.edu/ben/421/rudi_becking_appendix_1.pdf
Rudi's 1987 report from Russia: http://bomi.ou.edu/ben/421/rudi_becking_appendix_2.pdf
Rudolf W. Becking, prominent botanist, forester and environmentalist, passed away on October 13, 2009, in Sandy, Utah.
Rudi Becking was born on October 19, 1922, in Indonesia, where his father, Dr. Johannes Hendrik Becking, was the Chief Forester of the Dutch West Indies Forest Service. Rudi planned to follow in his father's steps, but the Japanese invasion of Indonesia intervened. Rudi was captured by the Japanese forces and ended up constructing airfields for the duration of the war. After he was released in Singapore, Rudi returned to the island of Java with a group of about three hundred Dutch soldiers. Although outnumbered ten to one, they managed, with only a single ship at their disposal, to recapture the capital city of Djakarta.
Rudi did not remain long in Java. The plantation forests that had been established before the war by Indonesian contract farmers, under the supervision of the Dutch West Indies Forest Service, had suffered during the years of fighting. The time of political chaos that followed the war also affected the forests. With few prospects of a government career similar to his father's, Rudi took the opportunity to advance his studies. In 1946 he left Java for Holland to begin a program at the Wageningen University. In 1952 Rudi received a Ir. Tr. M.S. in Tropical Forestry and a Ir. B. M.S. in Temperate Forestry from the University.
In the year he graduated Rudi received a Fulbright Scholarship for further study at the University of Washington in Seattle. He married his college sweetheart, H. Louise Sheltema, and they left Holland and moved to Seattle, where Rudi began a doctoral program in the Faculty of Forest Management. In 1954, Rudi received a Ph.D. from the University of Washington. His thesis was Site Indicators and Forest Types of the Douglas-fir Region of Western Washington and Oregon.
Following a brief stint of employment with the Dutch Forest Service, Rudi taught at universities in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Alabama. He then joined the Forestry Department at Humboldt State College in Arcata, California, and later became a faculty member in the Natural Resource Planning and Interpretation Department. From 1960 until 1983 Rudi was Associate Professor, then Professor, at Humboldt State University.
Besides his teaching and research commitments, Rudi was involved with forestry consulting, working with both the redwood forests of the west coast and with forests in tropical Indonesia. He was a specialist in the growth, yield, and taxonomy of Southeast Asian trees in the Dipterocarpaceae family. Rudi's interests were broad and included plant ecology, forestry, systematic botany, environmental studies, and ornithology. Despite the breadth of his interests, he involved himself deeply in whatever area his research interest led him to.
Rudi was a strong promoter of the Zürich-Montpellier school of phytosociology, a botanical method that originated in Central Europe with the works of Josias Braun-Blanquet. Phytosociologists construct units of vegetation classification that are based on floristic composition. Species lists are obtained in the field from sampling plots. By combining the lists into a table and sorting the rows and columns, a hierarchy of phytosociological units with specific environmental parameters is eventually built up. In North America the Zürich-Montpellier school has had, besides Rudi, only a limited number of followers, botanists such as Vera Komarkova, Miroslav Grandtner, Hans Roemer, and Toby Spribille. Whenever you saw Rudi in the field, he always had with him a notebook and pencil to record, in good phytosociological fashion, the names of species growing on a site.
Rudi was also well known for his interest in serpentine endemics. He described two new species of Hastingsia that grew on serpentine soils and authored the Flora of North America treatment of this genus. Rudi was also a strong proponent of Plenterung, a forest management system that involves a careful selection of trees to be logged. This technique, if applied consistently, results in sustainable timber production while maintaining the natural composition and structure of the stands. Plenterung was developed by K. Gayer at the end of the nineteenth century and has been successfully applied for more than a hundred years in Switzerland and Slovenia. Rudi was convinced that Plenterung was a suitable management practice for North American temperate forests and he applied this technique to a 26-acre forested parcel in the Albion-Little River District of Mendocino County. California. Rudi proposed a maximum of 15% initial tree harvest with successive harvests at seven-year intervals.
Rudi Becking was a fierce fighter for the protection of the West Coast redwood forests. In the late 1960s he worked with environmentalists to assemble the information that led to the establishment of Redwood National Park. Later he and a group of dedicated students formed the Emerald Creek Committee to press for an extension of Redwood National Park into the larger Emerald Creek watershed, a goal they achieved in 1978. Rudi complained to me, I remember, that on this issue he found himself at odds with other professional foresters. He took advantage of the ecological consciousness of the countercultural movement to energize the drive to protect this unique ecosystem.
As an outgrowth of his interest in redwood forests, Rudi produced a guide to the vascular plants of the redwood forests, using his own drawings to illustrate the various species. He did not employ a pencil for the initial drawings and ink them in later, as many artists do. He worked with a pen using fast, precise strokes. When I watched Rudi do his drawings, I had the impression that was transferring his mental image directly to paper. A second product of Rudi's interest in redwood forests was his important work with marbled murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus). Murrelets pass most of their lives in a marine environment, but during the nesting season they fly each night, sometimes many miles, to nesting sites deep in the coastal forests. Rudi was one of the first people to realize that these rare seabirds were building their nests high in old growth trees and he dedicated himself to protecting these unusual birds. Rudi was partly responsible for the 1992 recognition of murrelets under the U. S. Endangered Species Act. I first met Rudi in 1984 at the 18th International Phytogeographic Excursion in Japan. Many of the participants in this excursion were noted experts in the Zürich-Montpellier techniques. Rudi enjoyed meeting his botanical soul mates on this trip. He initiated joint recording of relevés (vegetation samples), discussed sampling and classification techniques, and was always ready, when the need arose, to act as an interpreter. The ambiance on this trip was in marked contrast to his experience two years later on trip to the Soviet Union. There the Zürich-Montpellier school was not officially recognized as a valid technique. The technique had a few Russian supporters, but they were quite conscious that they were acting in opposition to the official line and were careful not to make too many waves. Rudi jumped into the fray on the side of the Zürich-Montpellier method, often to the irritation of the academic administrators that had invited him to Russia. When you read Rudi's report of his USSR travels (http://bomi.ou.edu/ben/421/rudi_becking_appendix_2.pdf) you can feel the tension between Rudi and the official Soviet line on vegetation studies. Rudi's wife Louise died a few months before Rudi, in May 2009. Louise and Rudi were survived by two daughters and a son. "Peace be with Rudi, his spirit, his family and all we, Ruditarians, who see the world in a different light thanks to him" (Dan Sealy of the National Park Service, from Rudi Becking's memorial program).
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