Issue 38: August 2001



News from the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian National Herbarium (CANB), for the information of CPBR and ANBG staff and volunteers.


CPBR News is produced monthly. If you wish to contribute, please email your suggestions to Val Oliver, the coordinator.


Val Oliver: ph (02) 6246 5533; fax (02) 6246 5249; email:



Farewells 1. CSIRO 75th Anniversary

The CSIRO Open Days will take place on Friday 19, Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 October 2001. In addition to the nine marquees being set up in the area adjacent to Clunies Ross Street which will display various aspects of Centre research, the herbarium will also be open to the public. Further details will be available in September’s CPBR Newsletter.

[Val Oliver]


2. Research Groups

International Society for Conservation Biology Meetings Hilo Hawaii 30 July- 2 August

The annual meeting of the International Society for Conservation Biology was held two weeks ago in Hilo Hawaii (on the big island).  This is the main conservation science meeting of the year and the Centre was represented by Susan Hoebee and me, who both gave talks, with Geoff Clarke from CSIRO Entomology also attending.  As in previous years the meeting was a high quality mix of science with a good dose of management and policy mixed in. There were 1100 attendees from about 51 countries and papers reflected this diversity with session topics ranging from conservation genetics to conservation in Columbia.  The organisation was fairly good though as usual with large meetings it was hard to move between some sessions owing to the distances between rooms.  Nevertheless a good meeting and successful - with a lot of interest in the research we presented and Sue winning one of the four student awards.

[Andrew Young]


Botany 2001 Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A.

I attended the Botany 2001 Conference [], which occurred from the 12th to the 16th of August at the Albuquerque Conference Centre. The conference was attended by approximately 1,500 persons and there were a total of 668 papers presented. This is an annual conference involving various societies including the American Bryological & Lichenological Society (ABLS), American Fern Society (AFS), American Society of Plant Taxonomists (ASPT), Botanical Society of America (BSA), and the International Organization of Plant Biosystematics (IOPB). There were several symposia at the conference including one which presented arguments against the "Phylocode".

My main interest was in Asteraceae I and II, which were a series of talks occupying Tuesday morning and afternoon. I gave a talk entitled "A reassessment of tribal affinities of several enigmatic genera of Australian Asteraceae, based on three chloroplast sequences" by Bayer, R. J., E. W. Cross and N. H. Bagnall. The Asteraceae session ended with a meeting of the "Deep Achene" group of synantherologists hoping to reconstruct the phylogeny of the Asteraceae using DNA sequences. Vicki Funk chaired the meeting and it is obvious that a lot more work needs to be done before we will be able to reach our goal. The possibility of a third International Conference (Compference) on Compositae in South Africa for September 2002 was discussed. Vicki will approach Nigel Barker and others about this possibility.

Other talks were given by my collaborators and former visitors and members of the CPBR, Lily Ainouche, Greg Chandler, and Don Les. Scot Kelchner also presented a paper at the meetings. All of these talks went very well and were good publicity for the CSIRO/CPBR. I also attended the executive meeting of IOPB. I have been reelected as a member of the council of IOPB for an additional three years. IOPB discussions centred around the newsletter and its high cost to the society. It was decided that the newsletter would go to an electronic format beginning immediately and that only library subscribers would receive the hardcopy. The treasurer position has reverted back to Peter Hoch (MO), who will maintain a bank account locally. In future, dues will be able to be paid via credit card at the cost of $15.00 per year.

Next year, Botany 2002 will be held in Madison, Wisconsin and will also be a joint meeting with the Canadian Botanical Association (CBA). Subsequent meetings will be 2003 (Mobile, Alabama) and 2004 (Snowbird, Utah).

Following the conference I went on a privately funded field trip to collect various Helianthoid Asteraceae for Edward Cross and I to use in our phylogenetic analysis of Centipeda. All up approximately 30 taxa were collected for this purpose.


[Randy Bayer]


Flora Malesiana Symposium

With the 5th International Flora Malesiana Symposium fast approaching (Sept. 9-14), several Centre staff have been busy with the finalisation of the program.  As co-hosts with RBG Sydney we have had the responsibility of developing the scientific program for the meeting and it is looking very healthy.  Kirsten Cowley and Frank Zich have been preparing the Programs and Abstracts book for the Symposium and have done a great job. We have > 100 papers being presented and c. 30 posters.  This is by far the largest number of papers for any of these conferences and we have had to run concurrent sessions to fit them all in.   At this stage there are 135 registrants and on a recent count this included approx. 30% in-country participants, which is pleasing considering we have had some difficulty in obtaining supporting travel funds.

The Organising Committee's approach this time has been to hold a number of mini-symposia concentrating on particular issues and major plant groups, so that the ferns, palms and orchids will be looking at the diversity of recent research work on these groups.   I have organised a stakeholder mini-symposium in which we have invited representatives of various sectors with interests in Malesian botany - either users or funders of botanical information and systematics knowledge.  We have included some review papers on diversity and biogeography of cryptogamic groups through the Malesian region  - they are not yet being addressed for Flora Malesiana publication. Ethnobotanical interests continue to be strong and we have a session covering uses of plant species, this time involving some indigenous Australian ethnobotanists.  To encourage greater adoption of information technology throughout the region we have an extensive session on bioinformatics - a combination of "how to" presentations together with demonstration-cum-workshop.

The FM meetings always involve family workshops to address progress on accounts for Flora Malesiana and strategies to deliver and promote products. The Lauraceae one is being held in Atherton associated with the workshop on Interactive Identification, which is currently in progress.  It seems to be going very well with 12 enthusiastic participants and lots of consideration of the fundamental basis of interactive keys and characters and ideas in developing these products.

Several Centre staff who work on Malesian groups have taken a strong contributory role in development of the whole meeting, including Jim Croft, Lyn Craven, Rogier de Kok and Mark Clements, and I'd like to thank them for their helpful contributions - still lots to do in Sydney next week.

[Judy West]


Congratulations Ed

Congratulations to Ed Biffin, who has been awarded a University Medal by ANU. This award is for outstanding results in undergraduate and especially Honours studies. Ed has a near-perfect undergraduate academic record, achieving almost straight high distinctions since moving to ANU to complete the second and third years of his science degree. He completed his Honours course last January with a thesis entitled ‘A Cladistic and Biogeographic Anlysis of Flindersia R.Br. (Rutaceae). This research was supervised by myself and Judy West, with lots of good advice from Bernie Hyland and Tom Hartley. Ed’s major achievement in his research was to integrate two different approaches to biogeography (historical/phylogenetic and ecological/modelling), which hitherto have developed independently. Ed rose to this challenge despite the lack of an established approach, and wrote a deeply insightful discussion on the problems of biogeographic research. His thesis was given the highest mark ever given to an Honours student in the history of the School of Botany and Zoology (note that the examiners are independent of the supervisors!).

[Mike Crisp]




3. Education and Communication


Flora of Australia Vol. 58A (Lichens 3)

This book includes keys, descriptions, illustrations (colour, black and white photos and line drawings), synonymy, literature references, specimen citations and distribution maps of some of the more robust and luxuriant species of cool-temperate, south-eastern Australia (Lobariaceae and Sphaerophoraceae), as well as the ecologically important soil-inhabiting groups in semi-arid and arid regions (Peltulaceae, Endocarpon and Placidium). Also in this volume are the first Flora of Australia treatments of crustose lichens, including the mainly saxicolous Verrucariaceae, and the Trichotheliaceae, a family that is most diverse on the bark and leaves of trees and shrubs in subtropical and tropical forest.

Complete or partial accounts of seven orders are provided, including nine families, 24 genera and 256 species and infra-specific taxa.

[Pat McCarthy]



4. Information Technology and Data Management

Chair of Australian Working Group for GBIF

Ian Cresswell has been asked to Chair an Australian Working Group to oversee the development of the work plan for the Australian node of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), and ABRS will be seeking input from the broad biodiversity community on how such a node might operate. Nominations for the Working Group will be called for in September 2001, with ARC, CSIRO, EA, DISR and NHMRC wishing to be involved in the selection of "eminent Australian bioinformatics scientists".

[Ian Cresswell]



Useful website addresses:

Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research

Greening the Grainbelt

Summer Scholarships 2001-2002



5. General Centre Matters

Visitors Register

The purpose of the visitors register located at the CSIRO site of the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research (and the Australian National Herbarium) is to ensure that the details of each visitor are accurately recorded and to ensure the security of the visitor whilst in the Centre. The data from the register is maintained at reception and entered into a database on a weekly basis. This data is accessed to compile reports for Divisional and Centre use regarding visit purposes and, for example, the number of visitors to the Centre and/or the ANH per annum.

It is essential for all staff to:

[Alison Smith]



6. Other News

Annual Exhibition

The Art of Nature Exhibition, the annual exhibition of the Wildlife & Botanical Artists, was opened on Wednesday 29th September by Mr Bill Wood MLA. On this occasion the exhibition was at the ANCA Gallery, 1 Rosevear Place, Dickson.   It will run until Sunday the 9th of September.   This Gallery seems not to be well known, but it has the pluses of excellent lighting and lack of clutter from other merchandise.   The quality of the local artist's work is improving as the Wildlife & Botanical Artists group provides a united strength through training and exhibition challenges.  You are encouraged to go and see for yourself.

The Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research has provided sponsorship again this year through the donation of a book voucher for the Highly Commended Botanical Art Award.   The award was won by Isla Patterson for her Banksia painting.

[Helen Hewson]



7. Diary of Events/Activities




Details (relate to projects)

29 Aug-10 Sept

Third Annual Exhibition


J. Croft

CPBR sponsoring prize for the Botanical Award category

31 August

Launch of Flora of Australia, Volumes 11A & 11B Mimosaceae, Acacia and WATTLE:Acacias of Australia

A. Slee

J. Connors

K. Cowley

T. Lally

Parliament House, Canberra

1-4 Sept

Flora Malesiana Workshops

J. West

J. Croft

S. Duffy

K. Thiele


2 Sept

National SGAP Conference, Canberra

J. West

D. Jones


9-14 Sept

Flora Malesiana Symposium

Several staff


18-19 September

Disaster Recovery Workshop

K. Cowley

F. Zich

P. Moore

Conducted by DISACT (Disaster ACT Network)

24-29 Sept


J. West

J. Croft


20-26 Sept    

VI Australasian Bryophyte Workshop, Grose Vale

C. Cargill,

J. Curnow



24-28 September

Orchid Conservation Congress, Perth

Mark Clements,

David Jones,

Ish Sharma

Karina Fitzgerald

The First International Congress and incorporating the 2nd International Orchid Population Biology Conference

29 Oct - 2 Nov

National Conference of Volunteer Guides in Botanic Gardens

Several staff