ISSN 1188-603X

No. 519 June 29, 2017 Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, 1809 Penshurst, Victoria, BC, Canada V8N 2N6


Photo Plate:

Governor General of Canada David Johnston was at the Whistler Public Library on Friday, June 2 to honour a dozen local citizens with the prestigious Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers. The medal recognizes remarkable volunteer achievements of Canadians across the country. "Your work changes your communities, our country, the world, and you do it simply because it's the right thing to do because you've found the true meaning of community," Johnston said in his opening remarks, before quoting Greek philosopher Aristotle. "He said 'What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good.' Well you volunteers have served others and you certainly have done good, and in doing so you've improved the lives of those around you, and you've inspired others to follow your example."

The recipients, in order of acceptance:


From: Adolf Ceska
Photo Plate:

The 11th Whistler BioBlitz started just minutes after Kristina Swerhun and Bob Brett, the principal Whistler BioBlitz organizers, received their Sovereign's Medal from the hands of the Governor General David Johnston.

Whistler BioBlitz programs have a long tradition and have crystallized into an important biological survey activity. This year, 62 biologists took part in the two-day survey of selected areas in the Pemberton's Lillooet River valley and in the Whistler Valley's Brandywine Falls Provincial Park. The majority of biologists have participated in the previous Whistler BioBlitzes. A strong group of local ornithologists participated, as well as many BC government zoologists and zoological consultants. The strong contingent of mycologists included Prof. Bryce Kendrick, Dr. Thom O'Dell and many other British Columbia "published" mycologists. Preliminary results of this mycological group are being posted on Mushroom Observer and will be summarized in one of the coming BEN issues.

The Pemberton part of the BioBlitz was done with the cooperation Of the Lil'wat First Nation and the Lil'wat drummer Lex Joseph, with Lil'wat dancers Lois Joseph and her daughter Mhelen performed a traditional welcome dance.

Bob Brett, Kristina Swerhun and other BioBlitz organizers should be congratulated, not only to Bob's and Kristina's Governor General medals, but also to this great BioBlitz achievement!


From: Jonathan Shaw [] originally posted on BRYONET Thu 2017-06-29

I am writing to ask for assistance with collections of Sphagnum from those who might be in the field in the near future. Four colleagues and I recently received funding for an exciting new research program that involves whole genome sequencing of up to 100 species/samples of Sphagnum worldwide. We have access to most of the temperate, boreal, and subarctic species, but we also hope to include samples from tropical and southern latitude taxa. One of our goals is to better understand genome variation and physiology between northern taxa and those occupying other areas of the world, especially tropical regions (including high altitude tropical).

For whole genome sequencing, we ideally need a small (or larger!) bag of plants. It would be best if those plants are not fully dried so we can attempt to grow them for a while before extracting DNA, as both quality and quantity are important for this type of whole genome sequencing. If anyone is planning to be in the field over the coming weeks or months, we would very much appreciate your help! Plants that are moist but not completely dried could be mailed to me at Duke University and labeled "Herbarium material". We are happy to share unpublished data with collectors as we progress, and are open to collaboration in publication with active collectors who could provide a range of species/samples.

For more information about the project or about material that we hope to have, feel free to write to me!

For your information, the collaborators on this project are (aside from me): Dave Weston (Oak Ridge National Lab; functional genomics), Dave Hanson (University of New Mexico; physiological ecology), Chris Bickford (Kenyon College; physiological ecology), and Karen Hicks (also Kenyon College; functional genomics).

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!!


Jonathan Shaw
Professor of Biology
Duke University
Box 90338
Duke University
Durham, NC 27708
Fax: 919 660-7293
Phone: 919 660-7344


From: Bruce McCune Secretary, NW Lichenologists

The single most valuable book for people interested in learning the crustose lichen flora west of the Cascade Range in western North America has been Dr. Willa Noble's unpublished Ph.D. dissertation (1982). This massive work contains an excellent lichen flora for a portion of British Columbia. But its importance extends well beyond that. It is an indispensable reference work for lichen studies from Alaska to northern California.

The keys and descriptions have been reprinted as Volume 3 in Monographs in North American Lichenology, by the Northwest Lichenologists ( In addition to nomenclatural updates, a number of species concepts have been updated. Michael Haldeman writes in the preface, "In some cases, a short explanation and a more recent publication are mentioned for clarification. These are also included in the brackets following the original name. The reference list for these additional publications is included after Dr. Noble's original reference list... I added a note, in brackets, after a genus heading if one or more of the species included in this genus today were placed in other genera recognized in the original text (e.g. under Chaenotheca you'll find [see also Coniocybe], which will lead you to the account for Chaenotheca furfuracea.) More of Dr. Noble's unknowns have been published since the first reprinting and are given their current names in the text." Dr. Noble's descriptions include many original observations and colorful details that reflected her intimate knowledge of the species. For example, of Lecanactis megaspore she wrote, "The pycnidia, which resemble small black barrels with a dab of whipped cream on top, are more abundant than the apothecia, with the latter often absent. In the field the abundant pycnidia vaguely resemble a species in the Caliciales, although a white mazaedium has not been encountered in any of the local species."

Bibliographic details:

Noble, W. J. 1982, Reprinted in 2017 with nomenclatural updates by Michael Haldeman.
The Lichens of the Coastal Douglas-Fir Dry Subzone of British Columbia. Monographs in North American Lichenology 3: 1-260. Pbk. $30. Keys and full descriptions, B/W line drawings of spores.

The book can be ordered from:

[Editorial Note: I cannot resist boasting that Willa Noble and her husband-to-be, Alton Crane, were my favourite students at the University of Victoria, when I was teaching the third year Plant Taxonomy and Plant Ecology, substituting for my Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Marc Bell. Congratulations, Willa! Ahoj, Alton! Adolf Ceska]


From: Adolf Ceska

Wohlleben, P., 2016. The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate Discoveries from a Secret World. Greystone Books Ltd., Vancouver, BC, Canada. 288 p. ISBN: 9781771642484 Price: US$ 24.95

This is an interesting book that reminds me of my growing up in the Communist Czechoslovakia, the years when I was a high school student. Because my father was a "capitalist" and my mother "was hiding the bourgeois character of our family", I was not allowed to attend a high school in our district town. I ran away from home and attended a high school at the other end of Bohemia, where the schoolmaster did not mind my faulty genome. When away from home, I spent a lot of time in the local library and the journal "Soviet Science - Biology" was my most favourite reading. It was full of discoveries made by Trofim Denisovich Lysenko and his followers. It read better than any magazine of humour and satire or any cartoons. Lysenko scientists believed that the chromosomes are just artifacts that you get using drastic microscopic techniques, and they forced farmers to plant potatoes in nests, where the individual potato plants would support each other. I took those writings as a joke, in spite of the fact that Lysenko's teaching was the only official line forced onto biology teaching at the Eastern Block universities.

I bought this Hidden Life book, but I found it difficult to read, because it reminds me far too much of Lysenko's and Michurin's teachings. However, if you do not have a similar allergy, you may enjoy reading this book. And, as it is true with the old Lysenko doctrines, some of the ideas in this book are quite interesting and worth your attention.

For The Guardian interview with Peter Wohlleben go to:

Send submissions to

BEN is archived at