|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 531 January 27, email@example.com||Victoria, B.C.|
Until I met Ing. Jan Jeník, I had never encountered a person who knew so much about my favorite mount—Mount Washington, New Hampshire—but who had never been there. So, how did this come about?
In 2004, I had been invited by Dr. Jana Albrechtová, who had just spent a year as a Fulbright Fellow in my department at the University of New Hampshire, to come to Prague and present for the Department of Plant Physiology, Charles University, a short-course: Aquatic plants: environmental adaptations, biodiversity and phytogeographic distribution. We organized the course as a lecture/field excursion course, mostly in South Bohemia at the field station in Trebon in collaboration with the Landscape Ecology of Academy of Sciences, with Dr. Tomá Kucera and Dr. Jan Pokorný organizing the excursions. What a wonderful opportunity that was to excite students about plants of the aquatic environment. The field trips were "icing on the cake."
Following the course there was sufficient time for my colleagues to arrange for some additional field trips before returning to the USA. The trips included a couple of mires, and a fascinating sphagnum bog. And, as I expressed a particular interest in the alpine environment, Tomá Kucera arranged to take me to the Giant Mountains. What a wonderful day! I kept exclaiming these mountains remind me so much of Mount Washington. Even the flora has extremely strong affinities with "my" mountain. By the end of the day, Tomá had decided that he needed to connect me with his graduate professor, and expert on the Giant Mountains. He knew of Jan's interest in Mount Washington. So, the day before my wife and I were to return to the USA, Dr. Jan Jeník met us at a little café near our lodging in Prague for lunch.
Here we were, two botanists, who bonded immediately over our love of the alpine environment enjoying a 2-hour cup of soup in this small café in the old section of Prague. It seemed that he knew as much about Mount Washington as I did. In my case, as plant taxonomist at the University of New Hampshire, my studies on Mount Washington stemmed from our developing the first comprehensive list of Rare and Endangered Species of New Hampshire (Storks and Crow, 1978), with so many of the State's rare plants occurring in the alpine on Mount Washington. Jan Jeník, on the other hand, who had so thoroughly studied the alpine vegetation of the Giant Mountains, Krkonos?e National Park, which boasted 29% of its native flora being listed on the Red Data List of endangered species for the Czech Republic, had discovered Mount Washington on the Internet. And through his surfing the Web he found Mount Washington to have many similarities in geophysical and physiognomic features, such as the Alpine Meadow and deep alpine ravines the Great Gulf, Tuckerman's Ravine, and Huntington Ravine, features he found predominant in the Giant Mountains and led to his Theory of Anemo-Orographic Systems. He loved "pumping" me about this mountain that so intrigued him.
As we parted, I said "If you come to New Hampshire, I will take you up Mount Washington." I think he felt I was just being polite, but I meant it. So, as we kept in touch, and especially as we exchanged Christmas greetings, I again extended the invitation for him to come to New Hampshire in June, 2005, when the alpine would be at its peak flowering time. Thus, we began planning in earnest. This would not be an easy trip for Jan, as he had suffered greatly from Lyme disease, and any extensive hiking would be difficult. But this was a trip of a lifetime! So, he engaged Tomá Kucera to come along with him for a 2-week trip to New Hampshire, and by staying at our house we could keep expenses to a minimum. We had a wonderful time together. Both men gave seminars on their research at the University of New Hampshire. And we had ample time to visit a number of different habitats: bogs, saltmarsh, coastal sand dunes. But, of course, Mount Washington was the prize. That mountain has its own weather, and one must carefully plan trips to the summit. We were lucky—committed is perhaps a better word—and we made 3 trips up Mount Washington.
On June 9th the weather was remarkably good—not picture perfect, but at least we were not blown away. Flowers in the Alpine Garden were in peak condition: Diapensia lapponica (Diapensia), Rhododendron lapponica (Lapland Rosebay), Loiseleuria procumbens (Alpine Azalea), Vaccinium uliginosum (Bog Bilberry), Vaccinium vitis-idaea (Mountain Cranberry), Salix uva-ursi (Bearberry Willow), Carex bigelowii (Bigelow's Sedge), and Trichophorum cespitosum (Deerhair Sedge or Tufted Bulrush) were spectacular. We even found small populations of Silene acaulis (Moss Campion) and of Arctostaphylos alpina (Alpine Bearberry). It was a great day to be in the alpine.
June 13th was also a spectacular day—but in a different sense. The weather was fine in the valley, but on the summit of Mount Washington we were in the clouds all day. You could hardly see a few meters ahead. In fact, we had to be extremely careful always to be aware of our location; one could easily get disoriented in this dense fog. It's in this weather that the mountain has taken its toll, even on seasoned hikers. Care pays off in this environment. And, of course, it is quite useful to experience the mountain under all its weather conditions. So, we enjoyed another day on the mountain we love.
June 17th we had a new experience—even for me. Jan wanted to ride up on the Mt. Washington Cog Railway. So, Jan, Tomá and I did. The day was overcast, but the clouds had lifted—at least part of the day. But you often get some of your best photos when you have these conditions. And we got plenty of photos. Mind you; this was before we owned digital cameras, so one was not so liberal about how many photos one takes; we are a frugal lot. As we were somewhat restricted on how much hiking we could do, we decided to take a tour of the Mt. Washington Observatory. And we got a royal tour. They were amazed at how much Jan had learned about the mountain from his daily visits to their web site. They were thrilled to have such a distinguished visitor. Prof. Jan Jeník, a distinguished visitor, indeed!
So, I count it such a privilege to have gotten to meet, know and enjoy Jan Jeník¬––an amazing Plant Ecologist from the Czech Republic. What a treat to get to know his Giant Mountains, and to show him, personally, my Mount Washington.
Congratulations on becoming a Nonagenarian—6 January 2018, Jan Jeník!
tursa, Jan. 2016. Krkonoská tundra. Vrchlabí: Správa KRNAP, ISBN 978-80-7535-039-8 http://webserv.krnap.cz/data/krkonosska_tundra.pdf
This online publication gives an overview of the Giant Mountains, where Jan Jenik developed his Theory of the Anemo-Orographic Systems. The publication is in Czech, but its pages 192 - 197 give an extensive English summary. The book has numerous photo plates for which the English captions are on pages 198-207.
Prof. Jenik contributed to BEN # 260 with an article on Anemo-Orographic Systems and their impact on plant life.
Samples of soils and plants collected at various locations in the Canadian Arctic for biomass and primary production study were also tested for radioactive contamination arising from nuclear weapons testing. Measurements with a gamma ray spectrometershowed that all the organic samples were contaminated with cesium-137, whereas the soils were relatively free of this isotope. A surprisingly high level of 137Cs was observed in the fine organic sediments taken from a high-arctic oligotrophic lake. The radial distribution of cesium-137 in an arctic cushion plant, Dryas integrifolia, was determined and used to confirm a dating procedure for this type of plant. Samples collected in 1977 show radioactive contamination due to the Chinese nuclear explosion of September 1976.
Boubínský prales virgin forest is the best-preserved montane Picea-Fagus-Abies forest in the Czech Republic. Its core area (46.67 ha), grown with original montane forest never cut nor managed by foresters, has been protected since 1858. It represents the centre of the present-day nature reserve(685.87 ha). A detailed inventory of its fungal diversity was carried out in 2013–2014. Ten segments differing in habitat and naturalness were studied (235 ha). The total number of species was 659, with the centre of diversity in the core area (503 species) followed by the neighbouring segments grown by natural forests minimally influenced by man. When literature and herbarium data are added, the total diversity reaches a total of 792 taxa. The locality represents a unique refugium for some boreal-montane fungi (e.g. Amylocystis lapponica, Laurilia sulcata, Pholiota subochracea), a high number of rare species preferring old-growth forests (Antrodia crassa, A. sitchensis, Baeospora myriadophylla, Chrysomphalina chrysophylla, Fomitopsis rosea, Ionomidotis irregularis, Junghuhnia collabens, Skeletocutis odora, S. stellae, Tatraea dumbirensis), wood-inhabiting and mycorrhizal fungi confined to Abies (Panellus violaceofulvus, Phellinus pouzarii, Pseudoplectania melaena, Lactarius albocarneus), and a high number of indicators of well-preserved Fagus forests (e.g. Climacodon septentrionalis, Flammulaster limulatus, Pholiota squarrosoides). Several very rare fungi are present, e.g._Chromosera cyanophylla, Cystoderma subvinaceum and Pseudorhizina sphaerospora. The value of the local mycobiota is further emphasized by the high number of protected and Red List species. Comparison with other Central European old-growth forests has confirmed that Boubínský prales is a mycological hotspot of European importance.
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