ISSN 1188-603X

No. 455 May 17, 2012 Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2


From: Mike Bell & Jessica Gurevitch, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5245 Originally posted in ECOLOGY-L, April 16, 2012

We are sad to report that Distinguished Professor Emeritus Robert R. Sokal passed away in Stony Brook on Monday, April 9, 2012 at the age of 86. Prof. Sokal was a founding member of the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University, co-founder of the revolutionary field of Numerical Taxonomy, and the principal investigator for major research programs in the spatial variation of insects and humans and the evolutionary response to selection in insects. He supervised the training of numerous Ph.D. students and taught biometry to a much larger number. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA and received many other honors during his remarkable career. We in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook will miss his insights, support, mentoring and friendship.

Prof. Sokal was born into a middle class Jewish family on January 13, 1926 in Vienna, Austria, the only child of Klara and Siegfried Sokal. He fled the looming Nazi menace with his family in 1939 to Shanghai, China, which became the refuge for tens of thousands of European Jews during World War II. Robert attended secondary school and college in Shanghai, earning his B.S. degree in Biology from St. John's University in 1947. There he also met a young Chinese student, Julie Chenchu Yang, who became his wife and lifelong love. A book entitled Letzte Zuflucht Schanghai (Final Refuge Shanghai) by Stefan Schomann (2008), in German and translated into Chinese, chronicled Robert's flight from Vienna, his family's refuge in Shanghai, and the start of his life with Julie, before he came to the United States for his graduate education.

Prof. Sokal received his graduate training at the University of Chicago, where he earned his Ph.D. in Zoology in 1952 under the direction of the renowned entomologist and ecologist Alfred E. Emerson and was strongly influenced by Sewall Wright. He joined the Entomology Department at the University of Kansas in 1951 as an instructor, and rose rapidly through the academic ranks to Professor of Statistical Biology in 1961. He was recruited by Lawrence B. Slobodkin to the fledgling Department of Ecology and Evolution at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1968, where he spent the remainder of his career. He held many visiting professorships during these years, including at Hebrew University, Institute of Advanced Studies in Portugal, University of Vienna, and the Collège de France in Paris.

Prof. Sokal's scientific publications span seven decades and a broad range of subjects. He published major papers in ecology, evolution, anthropology, geography, statistics, and of course systematics. His papers appeared in Science, Nature, PNAS USA, and many of the best specialty journals in ecology, evolution, systematics, anthropology, and statistics. He is probably best known to evolutionary biologists and ecologists for his Biometry textbook with F. James Rohlf, the fourth edition of which he completed less than a year before his death. A recent search of Google Scholar indicated that the third edition of Biometry had been cited over 19,850 times. Prof. Sokal is also well known as the co-founder of Numerical Taxonomy with Peter H. A. Sneath [1923-2011] in 1963. This work promoted statistical methods for classification and was controversial both because it advocated abandonment of traditional evolutionary systematics and led to the debate between the advocates of phenetic and cladistic methods.

Regardless, it is undeniable that Prof. Sokal pioneered the use of rigorous, objective statistical methods and the employment of computers in systematics. Prof. Sokal started his career with dissertation research on patterns of geographical variation in Pemphigus aphids. Later, he initiated research on the evolutionary response to selection in laboratory populations of Tribolium beetles and house flies. His last major empirical project, which he pursued for more than two decades, focused on analysis of patterns of spatial variation in human populations for a variety of traits and the development of new methods for these analyses.

Prof. Sokal published 12 books (5 translated) and 206 articles, and his publications have been cited tens of thousands of times.

Prof. Sokal came to Stony Brook University as a Professor in 1968. He was named Leading Professor in 1972 and Distinguished Professor in 1991. He retired in 1995 and became a very active Distinguished Professor Emeritus. He served as the Chair and Graduate Program Director of the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University from 1980 to 1983 and as Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies from 1981 to 82. He remained very active in scientific research, the Department of Ecology and Evolution, university affairs, and the National Academy of Sciences, even attending departmental colloquia until the last year of his life, when his declining health precluded it.

Prof. Sokal also served in many other prestigious capacities, including President of the Society for the Study of Evolution, the American Society of Naturalists, the Classification Society, and the International Federation of Classification Societies, the last of which he helped found. He was an associate editor of Evolution (1965-68) and editor of The American Naturalist (1969-1974). He received many high honors, including both Fulbright and Guggenheim awards, the Charles R. Darwin Award for Lifetime Achievement of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, and many others. He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and The American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.

Robert R. Sokal is survived by his wife of 64 years, Julie Sokal, his children David Sokal and Hannah Sokal-Holmes, and four grandchildren. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, and colleagues.


From: Paul M. Catling, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Environmental Health, Biodiversity, Saunders Bldg., Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0C6 Canada []

Recently Smooth Saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia (Nutt.) Nutt. var. pumila (Torr. & A. Gray) A. Nelson) was reported from cool montane parklands in the Crowsnest Pass and Castle Mountain regions of Rocky Mountains in Alberta, these being the first records for Canada (Catling 2008). While examining specimens at the Royal British Columbia Museum in 2010, I found two collections of A. alnifolia var. pumila from British Columbia. These are the first records for the province.

Both specimens have glabrous branches, leaves and inflorescence and the top of the ovary is also glabrous, as is characteristic and diagnostic for this taxon. Measurements of these specimens were: Manning: basal flower petals 9.5 mm, basal pedicel 7 mm. Stikine: basal flower petals 8.5 mm, basal pedicel 11.5 mm. Both specimens key to A. alnifolia var. pumila in the key to Amelanchier in Alberta and British Columbia provided in this BEN issue.

The new localities are a northward extension of a range that includes the Rockies and interior ranges south to Arizona, California, and New Mexico (see Figure 1 in Catling 2008).

Specimens examined: Manning Park, SW end of Lightning Lake, 4000', 13 July 1960, K.I. Beamish (V 44309). Stikine, Telegraph Creek Road above the confluence of the Tahltan and Stikine Rivers, 58.0166°, -130.9666°, 31 May 1982, H. Habgood (V 188398).

Literature Cited

Catling, P.M. 2008.
Amelanchier alnifolia var. pumila (Rosaceae) in Alberta, with notes on its classification and identification. Rhodora 110(944): 379-388.


From: Paul M. Catling, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Environmental Health, Biodiversity, Saunders Bldg., Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0C6 Canada

With the discovery of a new taxon in British Columbia (see above) and some recent work on Amelanchier in the province, it may be useful to have a new key and an overview of the taxa considering their relationships and distributions. Some of the information here is from both unpublished work and examination of herbarium specimens and plants in the field. This interesting group of shrubs has some potential as an improved and expanded Canadian crop (Catling and Small 2003). It is also important to biological diversity as a source of nectar and pollen for a vast array of pollinating insects which service other flowering plants and provide food for many other organisms.

Pojar's (1999) treatment provided a good basis for the understanding of this group in the province. The accompanying map (Douglas et al. 2002) treats all British Columbia taxa together as Amelanchier alnifolia sensu lato. This is not a surprise because the taxa are difficult to identify and require additional taxonomic study. Mapping of some of the varieties is now available in the E-Flora BC (Klinkenberg 2012). The map in Douglas (2002) does not show any occurrence of the genus in the Queen Charlotte Islands (now Haida Gwaii), yet it is reported from there in the excellent flora by Calder and Taylor (1968) and much later listed as common in the checklist by Cheney et al. (2007). Taylor and Mulligan (1968) also provided the first chromosome count for western coastal segregate of A. alnifolia based on a tetraploid plant from Graham Island, Haida Gwaii (2n=34).

There are four or five taxa of Amelanchier in British Columbia including two well defined species, one with three or four varieties:

1a. Plants at flowering time completely glabrous (including top of ovary and new growth); petals 7-11 mm long; plants 0.1-0.3 (3) m tall, stoloniferous, forming patches .. A. alnifolia var. pumila
1b. Plants at flowering time glabrous to densely hairy on top of ovary and new growth densely tomentose; petals 6-25 mm long; plants 0.5-17 m tall, stoloniferous forming patches or several stems in a tight clump ..2

2a. Top of ovary glabrous (in fruit) or very sparsely hairy (in flower); plants usually with several to many stems in a tight clump, sometimes trees; petals 16-25 mm long; leaves thick and semi-lustrous .. A. cusickii
2b. Top of ovary hairy (in fruit and flower); plants stoloniferous in patches, or a few stems together; petals 6-15 mm long; leaves thin, not lustrous .. 3

3a. Petals 12-15 mm long; sepals 3-4 mm; lower pedicels 15-25 mm .. A. alnifolia var. semiintegrifolia (Hook.) C.L. Hitchc.
3b. Petals 6-10 mm long; sepals 1.5-3 mm; lower pedicels 2-15 mm .. 4

4a. Pedicels only 2-3 mm long; leaves shallowly serrate with small teeth .. A. alnifolia var. humptulipensis
4b. Pedicels 5-15 mm long; leaves coarsely serrate with large teeth .. A. alnifolia var. alnifolia

A. alnifolia (Nutt.) Nutt. var. alnifolia PRAIRIE SASKATOON This taxon probably occurs throughout much of the province, especially at lower elevations in areas with prairie and parkland habitats. It is apparently absent from the low elevation, xeric regions of the Okanagan. In some prairie regions of Alberta it is distinct but becomes complex at higher elevations where it appears to hybridize with var. pumila and var. semiintegrifolia.

A. alnifolia (Nutt.) Nutt. var. humptulipensis (G.N. Jones) C.L.Hitchc. PUGET SOUND SASKATOON This taxon was described as a Puget Sound local endemic by G. N. Jones in 1946. It was distinguished by its restricted geographic occurrence, smaller size, four styles, more finely toothed leaves and smaller floral parts (Jones 1946). The number of styles was suggested by Jones as the most distinctive feature. However, in a recent study of plants in the Victoria region (Catling unpublished) this character was found to be less related to plant size than other floral features and did not provide a reasonable separation of either plant size or habitat groups. During this recent study no plants were found that were clearly referable to var. humptulipensis in the strict sense, although some small plants with small flowers might be recognized as that in a broad definition. However, no discontinuity was found on southeastern Vancouver Island between these small plants and medium-sized plants (both referable to var. alnifolia) and more widespread larger plants (referable to var. semiintegrifolia). However, two groups (var. alnifolia and var. semiintegrifolia) may be recognized on the basis of a correlation of habitat and geographic occurrence. There remains the problem of distinguishing var. humptulipensis and var. alnifolia. All that is available for this is the shallowly serrated leaves and Jones' reference to the pedicels being "only 2-3 mm" which is significant because of his use of the word "only." This narrowly defined taxon may be better treated as an extreme variant of var. alnifolia, but that decision requires further study.

Although recent work in the Victoria region did not reveal plants that conformed to the narrow definition above, it may be that such plants were formerly present in Garry Oak openings and on open headlands and wind-swept islands, but are now extirpated as a result of the near complete occupation of their habitat by invasive Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius). With the original description, Jones (1946) cited specimens collected at Mt. Benson and Victoria, both by Macoun in 1893, which may have been prior to substantial displacement by Scotch Broom, which was likely growing wild on Vancouver Island in 1875 (Catling and Mitrow 2011). We can only speculate as to whether var. humptulipensis did once exist as a distinctive taxon.

A. alnifolia (Nutt.) Nutt. var. pumila (Torr. & A. Gray) A. Nelson SMOOTH SASKATOON. This taxon is essentially a glabrous extreme of A. alnifolia var. alnifolia. However tomentum is an important character in the genus and Smooth Saskatoon does appear to have a distinctive montane distribution rather than occurring as an anomaly throughout the mostly prairie, parkland and boreal range of var. alnifolia. It is only in the presence of var. pumila that plants with various amounts of pubescence on top of the ovary, ranging from sparse to moderate, have been found, these suggesting hybridization with var. alnifolia (Catling 2008).

A. alnifolia (Nutt.) Nutt. var. semiintegrifolia (Hook.) C.L. Hitchc. (A. florida Lindl.var. florida) SHOWY SASKATOON These plants with medium-sized flowers and inflorescences reach a height of 5 m (occasionally more) and frequently occur as a clump of 3-7 stems. They are apparently widespread in the province in cool wooded areas of the mountains and not confined to the coastal region as suggested by Jones (1946). They are still flowering at higher elevations in the Okanagan in early June, 2-6 weeks after A. cusickii has finished flowering in the xeric lowlands. In some places in British Columbia , Alberta and Saskatchewan, this taxon intergrades with var. alnifolia without any clear discontinuity. Quantitative data is available to show such intergradation in the Cypress Hills of Alberta and Saskatchewan, but even here there is a degree of relationship of flower and plant size with habitat. In many wooded areas where var. semiintegrifolia occurs, it is the only taxon present and is quite distinct. The relationship of this species to the eastern A. sanguinea (Pursh) DC. is unclear except that the latter may retain tomentum longer and has more pointed leaves.

A. cusickii Fernald CUSICK'S SASKATOON This is common in the xeric valleys of southern British Columbia, becoming less common northward to Kamloops. The map in E-Flora BC (Klinkenberg 2012) shows the restricted distribution quite clearly. This 2-4m tall shrub has a distinctive form with straight or terminally drooping branches arising from a tight group of up to 50 stems. Its surculose habit, i.e. the production of suckers in a tight group, distinguishes it from the more or less stoloniferous A. alnifolia. With its large flowers, more or less glabrous top of the ovary, thick leathery leaves and a distinctive distribution and habitat, this taxon deserves the rank of species.

In a few cases in cooler wooded situations, trees referable to A. cusickii are found. One such individual 17 m tall with a dbh of 15 cm and a single trunk is growing on a north-facing slope with Douglas Fir with some Autumn Olive and Tree of Heaven, on the southeast corner of Okanagan Lake behind the marina at Penticton (Catling s.n. 4 June 2007, DAO). This appears to be the tallest plant recorded. Despite the unusual height and habit, this tree was clearly A. cusickii on the basis of the very slight pubescence on top of the ovary at the base of the style and the round, glabrous, thick, leaves slightly lustrous above. Tree-like variants appear to be uncommon. They may be genetically distinct, adapted to shaded situations, and deserving of varietal rank.

Literature Cited

Calder, J.A. & R.L. Taylor. 1968.
Flora of the Queen Charlotte Islands. Part 1: Systematics of the vascular plants Research Branch, Canada Department of Agriculture monograph no. 4, part 1. 659 p.
Catling, P.M. 2008.
Amelanchier alnifolia var. pumila (Rosaceae) in Alberta, with notes on its classification and identification. Rhodora 110(944): 379-388.
Catling, P.M. & G. Mitrow. 2011.
Major invasive alien plants of natural habitats in Canada. 2. Scotch Broom or Common Broom, genet à balais, Cytisus scoparius (L.) Link. Bull. Can. Bot. Assoc. 44(3): 90-99.
Catling, P.M. & E. Small. 2003.
Poorly Known Economic Plants of Canada -37. Saskatoon, Amelanchier alnifolia - Canada's National Fruit? Bull. Can. Bot. Assoc. 36(2): 20- 26.
Cheney, M., P. Bartier & B. Johnston. 2007.
The vascular plants of Haida Gwaii. . Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, Skidegate, British Columbia. 23 p.
Douglas, G.W., D. Meidinger & J. Pojar. 2002.
Illustrated flora of British Columbia, vol. 8, general summary, maps and keys. British Columbia Ministry of Forests. 457 p.
Jones, G.N. 1946. American species of Amelanchier. Illinois Biological Monographs 20(2): 1-126. Klinkenberg, B. (Editor) 2012.
E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia [] Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed 16 March 2012]
Pojar, J. 1999.
Amelanchier. P. 262 in Douglas, G.W., D. Meidinger & J. Pojar, eds. Illustrated flora of British Columbia Vol. 4, Dicotyledons (Orobanchaceae through Rubiaceae). British Columbia Ministry of Forests. 427 p.
Taylor, R.L. & G.A. Mulligan. 1968.
Flora of the Queen Charlotte Islands. Part 2: Cytological aspects of the vascular plants. Research Branch, Canada Department of Agriculture monograph no. 4, part 2. 148 p.


From: Judith Lavoie, Times-Colonist Newspaper May 8, 2012

The Wickaninnish Sand Dunes in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve are likely to remain closed for much of the summer while the Department of National Defence sweeps the area looking for unexploded munitions.

Simultaneously, DND will be sifting through records from the Second World War to figure out if old grenades, mortars or ammunition could still be buried in the dunes.

The decision to close the area, which is about the size of three football fields, was made in the interest of public safety, said Renee Wissink, the park's manager of resource conservation.

An old mortar was discovered in the dunes in February. It was exploded by DND personnel who then went back in their files to figure out whether any more Unexploded Explosive Ordnances (UXO) could be in the area, he said.

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