|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 436 May 18, email@example.com||Victoria, B.C.|
Where: Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia When: June 10-12, 2011
Join Dr. Terry McIntosh on a search for the elusive Nugget Moss, (Microbryum vlassovii) and explore some of the more interesting dry land areas around the region.
This year each person is responsible for making their own lodging arrangements. Meals will be on your own but we will gather one evening for a group meal at one of the local restaurants. We are limited to 25 people. The registration fee is $25.00.
We have reserved a block of 20 rooms in the Residences at Thompson Rivers University: They are 2-bedroom suites with one wash room, includes all bedding and a continental breakfast. Cost: $99.95 + tax (per each suite)
For questions and registration form please contact either Olivia Lee Olivia@mail.ubc.ca or Judy Harpel firstname.lastname@example.org
Leena Hämet-Ahti and Teuvo (Ted) Ahti are familiar friends to western Canadian botany. Residents of Finland, Leena was Associate Professor of Botany at the University of Helsinki (later also Director of the university's Botanical Garden), while Ted was Professor of Cryptogamic Botany (later also "Academy Professor") at the same university. Beginning in 1958 and 1961, respectively, Ted and Leena made numerous forays to western North America, especially British Columbia, ultimately amassing c. 10,500 specimens from this region. Most of this material is deposited at the Finnish Natural History Museum (H), with replicates going to the University of British Columbia (UBC - Vancouver), the Canadian Museum of Nature (CANL - Ottawa), and other major herbaria. Relevant publications include, for Leena: vegetation zones of western Canada (1965a), vascular flora of Wells Gray Park (1965b), timberline meadows (1978), Juncus (1980), and Luzula (1965c, 1971, 1973); and for Ted: Wells Gray Park mosses (1967), British Columbia lichen checklist (1967, 1987), Wells Gray Park macrolichens (1992), Alaska Highway lichens (1994) and Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) Cladonia (1995, 1996). The name "Ahti" is now associated with western North American botany in the lichen genus Ahtiana.
It is mid July, 1961...
The scene is a rolling subalpine meadow somewhere on the upper slopes of Battle Mountain in Wells Gray Provincial Park. The day is cold, raw, overcast, and threatening rain. Near the edge of the meadow, two human forms, clad in heavy rain gear, can be seen moving slowly about on hands and knees. From time to time one of them pauses, removes a notebook from a pocket, and then quickly writes something down. Most of the time, however, their hands, when free, are waving around in the air, constantly swatting at the clouds of mosquitoes now gathered around them. Meet Teuvo Ahti and Leena Hämet-Ahti ... on their honeymoon.
Although Teuvo ("Ted" to his Anglophone friends) and Leena are no strangers to western North America, home for them is actually Finland. Here Leena was born in Kuusamo on 3 January 1931, and Ted in Helsinki a few years later on 14 June 1934. Coming of age in Finland during World War II could not have been easy; perhaps it was this that instilled in both of them a love of wild green places far removed from the Sturm und Drang of human politics.
Ted and Leena met while completing their respective M.Sc. degrees at the University of Helsinki -- Leena in 1955, Ted in 1957. They married late in 1960, just in time to plan a two month "honeymoon" of intense botanical study in British Columbia's Wells Gray Provincial Park. On paper, Ted was hired (by Yorke Edwards, British Columbia Provincial Museum in Victoria, Canada) to conduct a study of Mountain Caribou habitat, though in practice he and Leena used the opportunity to make a first comprehensive inventory of the Wells Gray's plants, lichens, mosses and hepatics. With characteristic vigour, they amassed a collection numbering many thousands of specimens.
Later that same year, 1961, Ted successfully defended his Ph.D thesis: a world monograph on the Reindeer Lichens (Cladonia subgenus Cladina). Leena earned her Ph.D. two years later, in 1963, with a dissertation on the birch forests of northern Norway and Finland. Both scientists would continue their association with the University of Helsinki throughout their careers. In 1974 Leena became Associate Professor of Botany, later also serving as Director of the university's Botanical Garden; Ted was appointed as Curator of the Botanical Museum's Cryptogamic Herbarium in 1963, and in 1979 became Professor of Cryptogamic Botany, rising in 1991 to "Academy Professor". Since retirement in 1996 he has been a Research Associate of the Finnish Museum of Natural History in Helsinki.
Over the years Ted and Leena have travelled widely not only in western North America, but also in other parts of the world, including Newfoundland, Ontario, North Carolina, Japan, China, Mongolia, Siberia, Sudan, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, Guyana, Mexico, and Venezuela. With more than 500 papers between them covering many fields of botany, mycology and plant geography, Ted and Leena have earned well-deserved international reputations that continue to bring them invitations for yet more travel to exotic parts of the globe.
The Ahtis' first foreign allegiance, however, is unquestionably to the wilds of western North America. The 1961 "honeymoon" trip was not Ted's first visit to the west (he had already collected lichens in British Columbia in 1958), nor would it be his, or Leena's, last. In following decades, one or both of them would return to the west many times: the Alaska Highway in 1967; Vancouver Island and the Yukon in 1977; the Queen Charlotte Islands in 1980; Oregon and northern California in 1984; Washington in 1992; and Wells Gray Park in 1980, 1987, 1992, 1994, and 2009. In 2004 Ted was in arctic Alaska.
By their own reckoning, the Ahtis have assembled 10,500 plant specimens from western North America. These specimens are now housed in the Botanical Museum of the University of Helsinki (H) -- with duplicates at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the Canadian Museum of Nature (CANL). Taken together, their collections certainly represent the largest extra-North American collection of western plants ever assembled. The only rival collection would be that the Swedish botanist of Eric Hultén.
>From these collections of vascular plants, mosses, hepatics, lichens and unlichenized fungi have come numerous important publications, including Ted's papers on Wells Gray Park mosses (1967), Wells Gray Park macrolichens (1992), Alaska Highway lichens (1994), Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) Cladonia (1995, 1996), and a list of lichens of the Noatak Preserve, Alaska (2009). Ted was also instrumental in preparing the first and second checklists of British Columbia lichens (1967, 1987). Meanwhile, Leena published on the vegetation zones of western Canada (1965a), the vascular flora of Wells Gray Park (1965b), and the timberline meadow phenomenon (1978). She also prepared several important taxonomic treatments on Juncus and Luzula. More recently she coauthored the volumes on Juncaceae in the series Synopsis Plantarum: Flora of the World (2002). It was Leena, for example, who described the species of Luzula now commonly recognized as Luzula hitchcockii.
Leena and Ted's contributions to western botany extend far beyond their collections and publications. Through their personal charm and readiness to help others, they have inspired more than one young career in botanical studies. Their early work in British Columbia both directly and indirectly led many European botanists to follow the "Ahti trail" westward to Pacific North America. To what extent the current European preoccupation with western botany is traceable to Ted and Leena is a question that cannot be answered, but bears asking nonetheless.
Residents of Finland, citizens of the world, Teuvo Ahti and Leena Hämet-Ahti have contributed much to our knowledge of the biota of western North America. In this, the 50th anniversary year of their "honeymoon" field trip, it is appropriate to thank them both very warmly for the many services they have rendered on behalf of western botany. It is fitting that the name "Ahti" should itself now be permanently connected with western North American botany in the lichen genus Ahtiana.
In tribute to the Ahti's special interest in Wells Gray, a new annotated checklist of that park's vascular plants has lately been posted: http://www.waysofenlichenment.net/wells/checklists/vascular_plants
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BEN is archived at http://www.ou.edu/cas/botany-micro/ben/