Scott's Botanical Links--December 2003


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December 16, 2003 - An Introduction to the Styx - Tasmania's Valley of the Giants
The Styx Valley of Tasmania, Australia, contains the tallest angiosperm trees on Earth, Eucalyptus regnans. Some of the tallest may exceed 310 feet in height, second only to the coastal redwoods. Some are more than 400 years old and massive. Ironically, the Styx is on the edge of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area-–one of the great temperate wilderness areas on Earth--but not in it. Therefore, this region is available for logging and the methods of regenerating new growth are draconian, involving the extermination of herbivores to assure success. The Wilderness Society of Tasmania (authors of this site) encourages making this into a Valley of the Giants National Park. Perhaps, with the recent announced death of the world's largest tree (URL:, there may be pressure to save the tall trees. (***1/2) -S
December 15, 2003 - Burke's Backyard
Burke's Backyard is a companion site to a television series by Don Burke that appears in Australia and New Zealand. Each week there is a gardening adventure or makeover, typically using someone's home or particular challenge (wedding for instance) as an opportunity. An established team of gardeners and designers cooperate to bring about the transformation. Past projects are listed by year and episode. Also at the site are many fact sheets relating to past shows, a monthly online magazine and an accompanying interactive gardening crossword puzzle. This is a very information rich site. (***1/2) -S
December 12, 2003 - Native Orchids of Provence (France)
This site on native orchids of Provence and Mediterranean France is presented in English (see URL above) and in its native French at URL: The goals of the site, a biography, description of the Orchid family and Ophrys philippi pages are in French, but the vast majority of the site is bilingual. Orchids are listed by geography, location (species maps of the region are extensive), and the site has a large digital image gallery listed by genus (thumbnail images appear, by species, in the left frame). The site also has an extensive bibliography, link collection (by country), site map and search engine. An excellent site on orchids by BLAIS Pierre-Michel, France. (****) -S
December 11, 2003 - Forest & Kim Starr's Photographs
Forest and Kim Starr are Botanical Research Associates with the United States Geological Survey who have amassed a remarkable 6000 high resolution, copyright free images for more than 900 species of native and non-native plants of Hawaii. In addition, there are links to Insects of Hawaii, Organisms of Hawaii, Natural Areas of Hawaii, Volunteer Opportunities on Maui, Publications, Silverswords and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. This is a remarkable resource on the Hawaiian Islands and maybe a nice break from encroaching winter in the Northern Hemisphere! Hosted by HEAR. (****) -S
December 10, 2003 - NOVA: Orchid Hunter
A companion to this week's episode on the PBS television science show NOVA, this site introduces orchids. The TV show features an orchid hunter (Tom Hart Dyke) who travels the world looking for rare orchids, at considerable personal risk. The website offers a 15 orchid image gallery, information about orchid "smarts"--remarkable adaptations for orchid survival by Susan Orlean (author of "The Orchid Thief"), pages on classifying life and more on famous amateur scientists. As they say, check your local TV listings for the show; check this site for some nice information about orchids and amateur science. (***1/2) -S
December 9, 2003 - Technical Tree Biology Dictionary
This hyperdictionary has some useful information about trees that is well presented, with some nice illustrations. The strongest entries appear to be in the first half of the dictionary -- most are concise. Terminology is accessed alphabetically through links on the home page. The web dictionary is useful to the extent that the author has provided useful scientific information, but is limited by unnecessary philosophizing and trivial entries, epitomized by the one on "Mother Nature", for instance. These trivial entries limit the audience that will see this and test some readers' ability not to wince all too frequently (myself included). With fewer of these, I would assess it more highly. © 2003 Keslick & Son Modern Arboriculture. (**1/2) -S
December 8, 2003 - Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)
Building on the December 5 selection, the Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk website focuses on species displacement by non-native species throughout the Pacific region. This site includes reports on invasive species, a "Toolkit of Best Prevention and Management Practices", "Invasive species in the Pacific: A technical review and draft regional strategy", as well as an apparently free CD. Information is available through lists by country, island and plant species via the site map. Though not as extensive as the Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk (HEAR) site, this is still very informative. Site maintained by HEAR. (****) -S
December 5, 2003 - Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk Project (HEAR)
As non-native invading species become established, an inevitable consequence is that native species are displaced and sometimes lost. The Hawaiian islands have many native endemic species of plants and animals. This website provides resources and information on the invading species that support effective science-based management of harmful non-native species. The problem is complex and information is the first step. The website includes many resources on native species as well, including a large collection (3000+) high-resolution, copyright-free images of Hawaiian plants. Site by HEAR. (****) -S
December 4, 2003 - Australian Plant Images
These images represent part of the National Plant Photographic Index maintained by the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG). Images on these pages are medium-sized images that were obtained by digital camera, flat-bed scanner or from a (prolific) photo CD (traditional film-based camera). Although images may date to the mid-1990s, most are very good to excellent, for the resolution provided. The photo CD has so many images that the acacias run about 5 pages without thumbnail images, though the other pages provide small preview images. Site by the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, ANBG, Canberra. (****) -S
December 3, 2003 - Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)
"The purpose of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is to make the world's primary data on biodiversity freely and universally available via the Internet." The principal product will be a metadatabase that spans biodiversity, molecular, genetic, systematic, ecological and ecosystem levels, permitting an unparalleled utility for "data mining" worldwide. Its current programs consist of DADI (Data Access and Database Interoperability), DIGIT (Digitisation of Natural History Collections), ECAT (Electronic Catalogue of Names of Known Organisms) and OCB (Outreach and Capacity Building), to mention a few acronymns. (***1/2) -S
December 2, 2003 - Botanical Society of America's Statement on Evolution
The Botanical Society of America prepared a statement on evolution for the National Center for Science Education presenting a plant perspective on evolution and why it is critical to present only scientific evidence in science classes. I am presenting it here as a very nicely written essay on the subject, which is not controversial among botanists because... "Natural selection has been repeatedly demonstrated in both field and laboratory, and descent with modification is so well documented that scientists are justified in saying that evolution is true." This is an eloquent statement on behalf of evolution and plants. Joe Armstrong of Illinois State University is principal author on this work, which was adopted by the BSA in July 2003. (****) -S
December 1, 2003 - Canadian Arctic Resources Committee
The Canadian Arctic Resources Committee (CARC) is a non-profit organization that accumulates and provides scientific information on the impact of development in Canadian Arctic regions. Their stated goal is to provide open dialogue for decision-making. The questions are complex and so are the answers. The site hosts a news alert, publications, documents, and materials about the circumpolar North, as well as an archive of CARC's quarterly publication, Northern Perspectives. This is an excellent resource for scientific information about the development of the arctic. (***1/2) -S

Past, past links (by date):

2006: January
2005: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
2003: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
2002: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
2001: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
2000: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
1999: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
1998: January*, February*, March*, April*, May*, June*, July, August, September, October, November, December   (*Leigh's links)
1997: January, February, March, April, May, June, September*, October*, November*, December*    (*Leigh's links)
1996: February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
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