|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 522 September 29, email@example.com||Victoria, B.C.|
On Tuesday July 18, 2017, 56 enthusiastic participants gathered at the Cathedral Lakes Lodge, in Cathedral Provincial Park, for the start of Botany BC (BBC) 2017.
In keeping with Botany BC's credo of being highly flexible the start of the 2017 BBC session was slightly delayed while the final run of participants were brought up the mountain via comfortable Suburban truck after the Lodge's trusty, but old, Unimog stalled out on the long and winding private road between base camp and the beautiful Cathedral Lakes Lodge. Undaunted by the slight delay, the start to a wonderful Botany BC was underway.
After a wonderfully creative and delicious dinner, everyone gathered in the cozy dining / lounge area of the Cathedral Lakes Lodge and settled in for a review of the coming week's activities and the first of three nights of botanical presentations.
Jenifer Penny kicked off the night with an overview of the rare plants in the park, highlighting the ones we were likely to encounter at this time of year in the subalpine and alpine. Next, our two esteemed speakers for the evening took the stage: Dr. Markus Heinrichs and Therese Ohlson.
Markus Heinrichs gave insight into the Postglacial Vegetation History at Cathedral Provincial Park (part of the topic of his PhD thesis). Through palynology-the study of pollen--he helped us journey through postglacial landscapes of the area, starting with dominant steppe vegetation and some spruce/fir, followed by pine forests in the early Holocene, and finally to the present with the Engelmann Spruce-Subalpine Fir association (ESSF). Markus and others were involved with a research project some years ago investigating holocene climatic change and landscape response at Lake of the Woods, which is located in Cathedral Park. Markus concluded that Cathedral Park, unlike other dry ESSF sites close by, has seen little change since the late Holocene with cores from Lake of the Woods showing a high climatic threshold to geomorphic change.
Therese Ohlson, botanist/plant ecologist from Twisp WA, provided a very relevant and interesting look at the Plants and Ecosystems of the Pasayten Wilderness. Lovely photos of local plants were accompanied by anecdotes illustrating the ways that plants at high elevations adapt to their situations. Many of the plants and ecosystems Therese has studied for so many years are just over the border from Cathedral Provincial Park (i.e., Cathedral Peak, Spanish camp), so provided a basis for practical botanizing over the next 2 days. In particular, for the rare plant hunters, we were wondering if she could detect a rare sedge common in her area that has been potentially reported for Red Mountain in the park in BC (blackened sedge, Carex epapillosa), however the mystery of this plant in BC continues as it was not seen. Everyone was also on the lookout for hummocks and their unique plant communities over the next 2 days! Therese provided copies of the plant list for the areas so that everyone could take it out on their walks and compare with what they were seeing. Some of the BBC organizers also updated the 1997 plant list.
Wednesday morning saw the group gather after breakfast to head off on one of three offered field trips. Trip One was a more intensive day hike led by Judith Holm and Frank Lomer. They took the group up the waterfall at the end of Lake Quiniscoe into a hanging valley where rare plants, Carex scopulorum var. bracteosa (which turns out isn't at all rare in the park), Arnica longifolia, and Comastoma tenellum were seen. After enjoying these and the other delightful subalpine plants, the group headed out onto the Rim Trail to enjoy spectacular views and mountain goats. In fact, two females and a young goat were seen right on the trail at the very beginning of the hike just past the campground. Some of the group made it to the top of Quiniscoe Mt. whereas others got behind climbing up other faces in search of rare plants. The entire group eventually all continued down the slippery but scenic trail above Glacier Lake where they had excellent photo opportunities of the lake en route back to the lodge Trip Two, billed as a slightly shorter, moderate day hike was led by Ken Marr and Therese Ohlson. This hike wandered up the shoulder of Red Mountain onto the Rim Trail. After a quick peak of Quiniscoe Lake and the Lodge and, of course, the hummocks on the beautiful meadows of Red Mountain, the group headed off down the Centennial Trail and then onto the Diamond Trail loop which offered spectacular wildflower meadows (of Lupinus burkei, L. arcticus, Arnica and Castilleja spp.) in full and beautiful bloom completely filling in the understory along either side of the trail in some places. Once again, rare plants were seen (the park has over 20 taxa listed by the BC Conservation Data Centre from lower to upper elevations): Mount Hood pussy paws (Cistanthe umbellata) and alpinum buckwheat (Eriogonum pyrolifolium var. coryphaeum) which are almost completely restricted to Cathedral Park (Cistanthe also occurs on Placer Mt.). These two low growing species are found on scree just as Centennial Trail starts to open up to the alpine meadows.
Trip Three was a half day hike led by Olivia Lee and Daniel Mosquin around Quiniscoe Lake examining "small things" and wildflowers along the lakeshore and adjacent forest. Despite being a short loop, the hikers experienced a number of plant communities: montane meadow openings (with hints of the lupine & arnica displays at slightly higher elevations), streamside and waterfall (with a favourite, the uncommon Cardamine cordifolia var. lyallii), a boulder field (where Silene acaulis hung on to its last blooms), and wet slopes (with Primula latiloba). The folks who collected mosses (with permits) had their packs full with the diversity of species! This trip concluded with some examination of willows along the Quiniscoe Lakeshore, including the blue-listed Salix tweedyi.
Photos from the day's activities were shared at a special evening session put together by Daniel Mosquin. Everyone had the opportunity to show off and identify photos of interesting, beautiful and/or rare plants that had been taken during the day. After another amazing dinner provided by Cathedral Lakes Lodge everyone settled in to listen to Dr. Ken Marr provide an enlightening talk on New Plant Discoveries from Northern BC Alpine. The talk was very informative about the habitats and conditions controlling the distribution of plants in alpine environments in general and echoed and carried on with ideas presented by Therese the day before. It featured many stunning plant photos and anecdotes for each. Ken also went into some detail describing how the Royal BC Museum teams operate their plant collecting forays with interesting insights into their tools and techniques. Discoveries presented included new plants species for the north part of the province and additional locations for rare species including range extensions. He briefly touched on the genetic work into mapping out the origins/movements of some select species including mountain sorrel (Oxyria digynia), and how there may have been some glacial refugia in NW BC evidenced by the high genetic diversity of the samples from BC. Ken illustrated well the very stark conditions of the alpine yet how beautiful a setting it is for botanical research.
The two day-long Thursday field trips focused on the Diamond Trail from a couple of different aspects, as it was agreed by many that this was the site of the best floral displays in the park. Judith Holm and Frank Lomer led a hike up Centennial Trail to see different habitats and species than the previous outing including the two rare plants seen by others the day before (Cistanthe umbellata and Eriogonum pyrolifolium) which were lifers for Frank Lomer who is on a mission to see every vascular plant taxon in the province! Their route went to Scout Mountain and down the Diamond trail enjoying the plentiful wildflowers that crews the day before got to see. Simultaneously, Daniel Mosquin and Reg Newman headed a group of botanists up Diamond trail and completed their circuit in the opposite direction. This less strenuous approach also afforded the same views of the amazing meadows, rare plants, moss campion mounds etc) while Agnes Lynn led a group which took the lower route to Diamond Trail for the wildflower tour.
Thursday's half-day walk was led by Ken Marr. He took a small group around the nearby lakes for a 1/2 day botanizing tour to collect material for the Plant ID workshop scheduled for the afternoon, another new special activity for Botany BC. The identification workshop focused on plant families, providing users with knowledge that will help them get to the right keys when they have unknown plants. The engaged group gathered in the Lodge lounge area where they spent an exciting couple of hours examining plant collections and learning trade secrets of plant identification. It was generally agreed-upon that the workshop was a fantastic addition. The final evening of Botany BC came too quickly for many of the participants. There was so much to see and do that it would have been easy to have fit another day or two into the schedule but not to be.
After yet another amazing dinner by the team at Cathedral Lakes Lodge, the group gathered one last time for the evening presentations. First up was yet another new step for Botany BC. Rather than having the usual "AGM" where the next year's location is decided we were able to hear more about Botany BC 2018 in Haida Gwaii. As a bit of background, in 2016, at Big Bar Ranch, Haida Gwaii was at the top of the list of "where to go next year" but due to the complexity of the planning it was decided by the 2016 committee that we would have Botany BC 2017 at the 2nd place location (Cathedral Prov Park) and use the extra time to make Haida Gwaii BBC a reality in 2018. Tanis Gieselman provided an organizational update for the group and people were clamoring to get their registrations in now if possible. PS- it not possible yet but it looks as though it is going to be a popular trip!
Our main presentation for the evening was Julia Chandler who summarized her doctoral research, Reducing ecological complexity of forest flora; through the looking glass of plant functional traits. Julia was able to take a complex idea about tracking the succession patterns of plant species to see if different ecosystems are more productive or better adapted to fire and make it very understandable for the group. It was much appreciated!
Once again Daniel Mosquin put together a collection of fantastic photos and presented the day's trophy shots for admiration and identification! Many thanks to all those who took the time to sort their photos and get them to Daniel during dinner so he could make the photo slide show a reality.
Due to the logistics of shuttling down the mountain, people departed from Botany BC 2017 at different times. Those who didn't take the morning shuttle spent time getting in one more hike or walk before departing in the mid- or late-afternoon-easy to do, as there is so much to see in Cathedral Provincial Park, and it is all so accessible from the lodge. Some of the participants were more eager about the Unimog trip back down than others - in particular Judith Chandler's 7 -year old son Ian was very excited about the ride down in the open-sided army-transport vehicle but eventually everyone found their way out of the park and headed home or to wherever their next destination was.
The Bialowieza Forest is a UNESCO World Heritage site that straddles the border of Poland and Belarus. It is perhaps the largest remaining primeval forest in Europe.
Most of the forest is in Belarus, where it is fully protected, but in Poland, about two-thirds are managed as commercial forest, and the government has recently tripled the amount of logging allowed there. The government claims increased logging will combat an attack of the spruce bark beetle.
Bogdan Jaroszewicz, a biology professor at the University of Warsaw and the director of the Geobotanical Station in Bialowieza Forest, says the beetle is part of a natural cycle, and the government is trying to "justify economic aims by ecological reasoning."
"They are cutting spruces to sell the wood," says Jaroszewicz. "From an ecological point of view, it just brings damage. Our experience here in the Bialowieza Forest shows that it doesn't matter if infested spruces are logged or not. The outbreak stops after some years."
The Bialowieza Forest ecosystem developed over the last 10,000 years, as the last glaciation withdrew from the area. It is home to some unique creatures, including its most iconic, the European bison. This species of bison was extinct in the wild by the beginning of the 20th century and was reintroduced to the Bialowieza Forest in 1952.
The forest is also home to several woodpecker species - the white-backed woodpecker and three-toed woodpecker, for example - that long ago went extinct in other European countries. "Those two woodpeckers are associated with dead wood and dying trees, and that's why they are extinct in the other countries. In Bialowieza Forest, they are in very good shape," Jaroszewicz says.
The government's logging rate violates current EU conservation regulations, Jaroszewicz notes.
"Last year, the European Commission sent a special mission to Bialowieza Forest to check, on the ground, the effect of logging on habitats and species that are protected by the Natura 2000 network of protected areas," Jaroszewicz. "They asked Poland's Minister of the Environment for justification and an explanation of the increased logging rate. As far as I know, our ministry answered this letter, but logging was not stopped or limited. The European Commission may accept the situation or it may send the case to the European Court of Justice."
See also: https://www.nature.com/polopoly_fs/1.19428!/menu/main/topColumns/topLeftColumn/pdf/530394a.pdf?origin=ppub or
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