Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research
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: Val.Oliver@csiro.au
David Field, PhD student enrolled at the University of Wollongong has commenced working with Andrew Young and Linda Broadhurst in subprogram UB on a project based at Plant Industry, Black Mountain. Davids project is looking at how woodland fragmentation influences the frequency of hybdrisation in Eucalypts and how hybridisation effects fitness and population viability. David is working primarily on the southern tablelands and his initial target species is E. aggregata.
Lindy Orthia commenced her honours project this month at the Centre with Rogier de Kok. Lindy was a summer student in 1999-2000 and will again be working on the Western Australian species of Pultenaea and a molecular and morphological phylogeny of the whole genus.
Melinda Pickup is a PhD student working with Andrew Young in subprogram UB. Her project will look at the effect of outbreeding depression on fitness and population viability of Rutidosis species. Mel will be comparing outbreeding effects in diploids and tetraploids, as well as assessing the effects of outbreeding over different spatial scales. In this context the tradeoff between S allele limitation and outbreeding effects will be of particular interest.
Volunteer Mounting Program
I thought it might be interesting for members of staff and Volunteers alike to see a list of current participants in the Volunteer Mounting Program and the year each person joined. The Program has grown considerably since its inception more than ten years ago by Bob Makinson. One of the most pleasing trends is the number of people attending on a regular basis and also sticking with us for longer periods. This means that most days there will be some experienced "Mounties" in the mounting room, which makes it easier for new members.
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF VOLUNTEER MOUNTERS
2. Research Groups
Fieldwork in Sulawesi: rhododendrons in the clouds, riding on cow carts, and so much more!
Lyn and I left for Indonesia on Saturday the 22nd of July excited to finally be on our way after two years of planning, with the added bonus of escaping Canberra in winter. On arrival in Jakarta we were met by Lina Juswara, our Indonesian counterpart, and headed straight for Bogor. Our first week was spent going back and forward to Jakarta visiting numerous government, police and forestry offices to get all the appropriate letters and permits. When we didn't have to be in Jakarta we visited the herbarium and Botanic Garden in Bogor and organized supplies for the field. Finally, after a week of sitting in cars, corridors and offices we were on our way to Sulawesi. As soon as we arrived in Makassar (Ujung Pandang) I fell in love with the Island, feelings that only got stronger as the trip progressed.
I thought our office visiting had finished once we left Jakarta but I was wrong. We took the letters we'd been given in Jakarta to the appropriate offices in Makassar. They in turn wrote us more letters for us to take to the provinces where we would be conducting our fieldwork. The provinces would then write us a letter to take to a kabupaten level and they would write a letter for the next level down and so on. Confused, we were. Thank goodness for Lina is all I can say, we couldn't have done it without her.
A word of advice, if you are planning fieldwork in Indonesia try and restrict it to one province, it will save you time and paperwork and also allow you to spend more time actually in the field.
After we'd been given all our letters and had bought the rest of our supplies we hired a car, and driver, and drove north to Rantepao, where we would access our first mountain from, Gunung Rantemario (s on map). On the way we stopped in Enrekang at the government office, unfortunately we arrived at 1.45pm and the office closed at 1.30pm. So we had to return the next day from Rantepao, a 3 hour drive on winding roads, to get our letter. The next day didn't go as smoothly as planned. The people in Enrekang wrote the letter to the wrong area so the people in Baraka (the right area) wouldn't even open the letter let alone issue theirs. We went back again the next day, on our way to G. Rantemario and sorted everything out. Finally we were heading to the mountains!
We hired a 4WD truck to take us to the end of the road, Pasongken, where we stayed the night before hiring horses to ride to the last village before G. Rantemario, Karangan (c.1500m). We were taken to the Kepala's (headman's) house, where we stayed the night and arranged for 7 porters to come with us and carry our gear up the mountain. The Kepala was even coming along as one of our porters. I felt so comfortable in Karangan, the people were so a friendly and welcoming and the surroundings were spectacular. So the next day we started walking up G. Rantemario. We crossed the river three times on log bridges before beginning up the mountain through oak forest. The path was pretty obvious because it is the highest mountain in Sulawesi and fairly popular mountain with trekkers. We saw at least three groups of more than 10 people on the mountain in four days! This popularity has resulted in the mountain being divided into signed Pos', relatively flat, open areas that you can camp or rest at; there is only water at Pos 2, 5 and 7.
During the morning we collected while we walked, stopping at Pos 2 (c.1850m) around lunchtime where we would spend the night. After lunch we collected a range of plants up the path to c.2000m in lower montane rainforest. Gesneriaceae, Rubiaceae and Moraceae seemed to be some of the common families around this altitude but we also found an interesting climbing bamboo and climbing daisy. No rhododendrons yet. That night we crawled into our sleeping bags on an overhang that was just deep enough for me to lie down without my feet hanging over the edge. The fear of slipping off the edge during the night and constant hum of the fast flowing river was enough to keep us all awake for a good part of the night.
The next day we walked, or should I say climbed, from Pos 2 to Pos 7 (c.3100m) collecting along the way. I saw my first rhododendron in the wild today although I was disappointed at first because it wasn't in flower. I forgot about this a little further up the path as we began to walk through a Rhododendron malayanum forest. There were plants in flower, bud and some with mature fruit and seed. Amazing! A little further up the mountain the R. malayanum forest petered out and after a short gap another rhododendron species took over, so now we were walking through a R. lagunculicarpum forest.
It didn't take long for our porters to realize that we were collecting plants in flower and when they found something they thought we might like they would pick a bit and bring it to us. They even prepared a surprise for us at Pos 6. They all got there before we did (as usual), and collected and arranged a huge posy of rhododendrons, Loranthaceae and some other plants in the ground and waited for our arrival. It was beautiful, and very helpful because we hadn't been able to reach the Loranthaceae ourselves!
Porters and Posy at Pos 6
Exhausted, we arrived at Pos 7 around 5pm. The porters set up the tarps, got fires started and water boiling for tea while we processed the collections from that afternoon. After a cold night we woke to a beautiful day and an amazing view. We spent the whole day collecting; we split up to cover a larger area. Lyn collected around Pos 7 and the river while Lina and I took some porters and collected on the way to the puncak (peak) at 3433m. The vegetation changed as we walked from Pos 7 to the puncak from a dwarfed montane rainforest to an open montane heathland that was extremely rocky and exposed in parts. It was not what we expected it to look like at all. Lina and I found four more species of rhododendron on the way to the top, two of them in seed, including R. eymae, which is endemic to G. Rantemario.
The following day we walked down from Pos 7 to Karangan, OUCH!! It was quicker coming down than it was going up but it took a lot more concentration, as some of the steep bits were really slippery. Later that night in Karangan the headman asked us if we would stay for another two nights. I wish we could have but we had to keep moving and the next morning we said our farewells and hoped onto our horses to start the long journey back to Rantepao. Ahhhh, shower and a meal of something other than just rice and noodles back in Rantepao! J
After a day of rest we were back into it, taking a day trip to Gunung Sesean
to collect Rhododendron rhodopus. We found it flowering and
fruiting on the roadside in Batutumonga, near G. Sesean. Later that day Lina
spotted Rhododendron javanicum growing on a steep embankment from the
car so we pulled over and collected that too. It's the only place we saw R.
javanicum on the whole trip.
The next day we hired another car and headed north, via Palopo, with the intention of driving to Palu. We had a long day driving and crossed into Central Sulawesi late in the afternoon. The first town we came across in Central Sulawesi was near Lake Poso, and it was here that we came across our first police checkpoint. They looked at our passports and asked what we were doing there. They also wanted to know about what sharp objects we had as there had been unrest in the Poso region. Apparently it had been relatively stable and safe up until the day before we got near there when a bomb had gone off in a bus and killed 5 people. We passed about 5 more checkpoints, getting stopped at only one more, on the way to Pendolo where we would spend the night. Pendolo is on Lake Poso and still at least 2 hours south of Poso, we were told that it was safe. We checked into a hotel and met a pariwisata (tourist bus) driver that had come from Poso recently. He told us some of his experiences and also things he had heard, these just reinforced our earlier decision to turn around and drive back to Makassar and try and fly to Palu. So the next day it was back in the car to high tail it out of there and back into safer territory. We didn't lose too much time with this detour and arrived in Palu only a day and a half later than originally planned.
In Palu, Ramadhanil, the curator of Herbarium Celebense at the Universitas Tadulako joined us. Before heading towards Gunung Sojol (l on map) we spent a day visiting offices and getting letters. The forestry people wanted us to take one of their people with them too, so Samuel joined our traveling group. The next day we had a hot, uncomfortable seven hour journey north to village of Siboang where we spent the night at the Kepala's house. We attracted quite a crowd when we arrived, probably because they had just finished games of late afternoon soccer so they stopped for a look on their way home. The Kepala and his family were lovely, they cooked us some yummy food, my favorite being the eggs fried in the locally produced coconut oil. They even used their water pump (a luxury item in this village I suspect) to get water from the river so we could all have much desired baths at the house, we were all extremely sticky.
We needed to get to the closest village, Kampung Sipatoh, to G. Sojol and we had to get a gerobak sapi (cow and cart) to take our gear and us there. I can't say it was the most comfortable mode of transportation I've been on but it was definitely fun. We bumped along the road for about two hours getting many a stare, wave or 'hello mister/missus' from the locals as we passed them by. At the end of the road we still had a half an hour walk to Sipatoh's headman's house and by the time we got there our shirts were soaked through with sweat. The heat here was different to what we had acclimatized to but a bath in the river at Sipatoh soon cooled us off. Once again we were warmly welcomed by the villagers and I soon came to love this village too. Half the village joined us in the headman's house while plans were made for porters and last minute food provisions for the next few days, Sipatoh doesn't get a lot of visitors, let alone many white people.
The following day the 12 of us set off seven porters, Ramadhanil, Samuel, Lina, Lyn and Ifor 5 days of walking and collecting. From Sipatoh we walked towards G. Sojol on the Siboang-Tinombo walking path. We followed this path towards the forest village Dusun Dua Cinta. However, we turned around after 2 full days of walking due to time limitations. It would take another day to get to Dua Cinta where we needed to get permission from them to collect in the surrounding forest, and then another one and a half days from there to the top of G. Sojol. We only had 5 days available on the mountain so we decided to turn around to maximize our collecting potential. The maximum elevation we reached was about 1500m above sea level and the majority of our collecting was done at an elevation of around 1000m in lower montane forest.
Most of the way we followed a path worn in by rattan collectors but the walking was still hard going, especially when we went bush bashing for over an hour, and getting a little lost on the way. We eventually made it back to the path a little scratched and bruised after what seemed like an eternity of slipping, tripping and climbing up and down rattan and smilax filled slopes. Needless to say I will never forget the Indonesian for 'be careful' and 'slippery'!
There wasn't as much in flower here as on G. Rantemario and unfortunately we didn't find as many rhododendrons as we would have liked but we still collected some interesting plants. Once again we found quite a few species from the Rubiaceae and Gesneriaceae. There were several different gingers around and some of their fruits were huge; the porters explained that some of them were edible too. Once again the porters were helped in the collection of the plants, climbing trees at the drop of a hat, digging up ginger fruits or chopping off a branch with flowers or fruits that we couldn't reach. Sometimes they were a little over eager chopping down a whole tree at one point so we could collect more fruits from a Myrsinaceae species.
Our five days on the mountain went by so fast and we were back in Sipatoh in no time. As soon as we made it back into the village, Lina broke into a sprint for the Kepala's house to grab a towel and drop off her daypack before racing down to the river for a swim. I wasn't too far behind her and we swam in the river in our hiking clothes for an hour or so. It was the nicest bath I think I have ever had! We spent the afternoon relaxing in the village and pressing and processing the last of our collections. Unfortunately we had to leave Sipatoh the next day, so once again we said our goodbyes before the porters helped us carry our gear to the road where we rode on the cow cart to Siboang. From Siboang it was back to Palu where we said farewell to Samuel, our forestry guy.
The following day we spent the morning at the Herbarium Celebense with Ramadhanil. This is the only herbarium on the island of Sulawesi and the collection is small, most of it being collected over the past few years by Ramadhanil himself. We all looked at our respective groups in the collection and Ramadhanil gave us some duplicates of Rhododendron and Syzygium specimens from the collection. The next day we were back in the field on a day trip in search of rhododendrons. Ramadhanil and Christian, a German scientist working with the STORMA (Indonesian-German Research) project, took Lyn, Lina and I to several places in Lore Lindu National Park about an hour or so south of Palu (n on map). They said we could drive to about 2100m and they had seen about three different rhododendron species in the area. We found seven species in flower that day including one spectacular fragrant white flowered species that had 23 flowers in the truss. (Unfortunately I don't have this photo back yet.) Without hesitation Lyn was off up the slope. Christian and I directed him from down below and heard several crashes and "Aswha's" but he successfully negotiated his way passed a big rattan, collecting the plant without too much damage to himself or the specimen. It was an extremely successful day trip.
Unfortunately our time in Sulawesi had come to an end and we arrived back in Bogor on the 28th of July. Our last few days in Indonesia were spent at the herbarium and Botanic Garden in Bogor, and we also took a half day trip to Cibodas Botanic Garden. These last few days flew by and once again it was time to say goodbye. We arrived back in Sydney on the morning of Friday the 2nd of August, the day of the Qantas strike. Thankfully our flight was still on and we arrived at Canberra airport only an hour late.
All in all it was a very successful trip. We found more Rhododendrons than I could have hoped and met some wonderful people along the way. I can't wait to go back again.
Summer Scholarships 2002-2003
The Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research is a collaborative link between CSIRO Plant Industry and Environment Australia, which aims to promote the study, documentation and conservation of Australias botanical heritage. The research interests of staff in the Centre range widely across many aspects of the phylogeny and systematics of Australias flora, its utilisation, and its conservation particularly in the face of habitat fragmentation and natural and threatening processes such as fire, disease and invasive weeds.
To promote the Centres aims and foster the development of interest in these areas of research, the Centre is offering five (5) scholarships during the summer of 2002-2003 in the following areas:
1. Ecogeographical investigations of native polyploid Glycine species.
Supervisors: Dr Sophie Bickford and Dr Tony Brown
2. The Hornwort Genus Megaceros: The Australian Connection
Supervisor: Dr Christine Cargill
3. Invasion Ecology: Investigating the Effects of Naturally Occurring Clover Viruses on Trifolium repens
Supervisors: Dr Robert Godfree and Dr Andrew Young
4. Taxonomy of the Red Ironbarks: how many species are there?
Supervisor: Mr Maurice McDonald
5. Are Australian Native Cottons Harbouring Pathogens of Cultivated Cotton?
Supervisors: Dr Bo Wang and Dr Augusto Becerra
The scholarships will run for a 10 week period from early December 2002 to late February 2003. During that time, successful applicants will be expected to undertake full-time work on the chosen project, present a short seminar and write a two page report for the Centre website. The scholarships are open for competition among students completing their second or third year of study in an appropriate discipline at an Australian University. Remuneration is at a rate of $400 $500 per week depending upon the year of study of the successful applicant. Income tax is payable on this stipend.
Applications should include a statement of your research interests and future goals, curriculum vitae, a statement of your current study program and university transcript, and the names and addresses of two referees, at least one of whom should be able to comment on your University career. It is important that all these documents are provided to ensure your application is fully assessed. It is essential for you to nominate your order of preference for consideration of the projects. Applicants are strongly advised to obtain further details of projects of interest by checking our WebSite http://www.anbg.gov.au/cpbr/summer-scholarship/index.html or contacting the appropriate Project Supervisor.
Applications close on Monday 16 September 2002
Requests for further details or submission of completed applications should be marked "Summer Scholarships" and addressed to:
Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research
GPO Box 1600
Canberra ACT 2601
Visit to Atherton
17 July - 1 August
I boarded the plane on my way to Atherton at 6am only to be taxied around the airstrip and put off the plane half an hour later. 2 hours later and 4 trips through the metal detectors (taking my boots off each time) I finally left Canberra.
The following day I was thrown immediately into the rainforest with plenty of warnings not to touch this, not to sit there (all vital stinger and scrub itch information). Over the 2 week period David Jones and I went on 4 field trips, first to the Tinaroo Hills, an afternoon in the local Ravenshoe area, the Daintree area and finally to the Windsor Tablelands with Bruce Gray. During these trips we made ca 130 collections consisting mainly of ferns but with some orchids as well.
When we weren't in the field or processing the material from field trips I worked in the herbarium on collections that have been donated by A.W. Dockrill. These are mainly orchids and consist of some specimens that are in fairly poor condition but most that just need a little TLC. Most sheets were mixed collections with limited locality details. I separated ca. 320 collections and put them into new sheets ready to be databased, mounted and incorporated into the Atherton collection.
David has been spending a lot of his time while in Atherton coding fern specimens to be used for the rain forest key. He is coding onto sheets (hard copy). I set up Lucid and began entering the coded information into the builder. Rebel will continue this with David.
All up, I made progress with a couple of ongoing projects, but I still can't tell one fern from the other.....well maybe one or two.
The first of our public lectures was presented the evening of August 7 in CSIRO Discovery. Brendan Lepschi talked about plant names and how and why they change. In so doing he elaborated on some of the underlying research and presented a picture of the way we do our science, especially that in the Herbarium, the cornerstone of the Centre's taxonomic activities. Brendans presentation was very well received and was a credit to the team that had put it together. Special thanks to Brendan and to Siobhan Duffy for her graphic skills that enhanced the illustrative aspects. Although some delve into the depths of nomenclature and get our kicks obsessing about plant names, this is potentially a dull topic to others. Brendan managed to present lots of useful up-to-date information in an extremely friendly and thought provoking manner, well received by the audience.
Over the next few months more of our scientists will present the results of our research and give you some idea of how those results are translated and applied in the real world.
4 September - Botanical Treasures -
Unlocking the many values of Australian plants
2 October - Plant Invaders
Its not only the exotics that are escaping - our crops are getting away and even some of our natives are on the move
6 November - Bushland on Life Support -
Remnant vegetation and the quality of life
The Friends of the ANBG provided drinks by gold-coin donation, and many people stayed around afterwards to view the specimen and poster displays set up by Jo Palmer and Bronwyn Collins to illustrate points from Brendan's presentation.
4. Information Technology and Data Management
A websites is being established for speakers notes and powerpoint presentations from each lecture in the Biodiversity Bites series. The website for the first lecture Whats Its Name is http://www.cpbr.gov.au/cpbr/lectures/names/ and can be accessed from Monday 12 August.
5. General Centre Matters
New Vehicle for Centre
The Centre is now the proud owner of a brand new turbo-charged diesel Toyota Troop Carrier.
For the first 1000 km (the break-in period), the user manual recommends the following:
Do not drive over 100 km/h;
Run the engine at moderate speeds between 2000 and 4000 rpm;
Avoid full-throttle starts;
Try to avoid hard stops during the first 300 km;
Do not drive for a long time at any single speed, either fast or slow;
Do not drive slowly with the manual transmission in a high gear;
For the first 300 km, the free-wheeling hubs should be engaged so that the front differential can be run in as well.
During the break-in period, the engine may burn a bit of oil. If you plan on taking this vehicle away during this period, could you please keep an eye on the oil levels.
The last Troop Carrier was well looked after and should bring a good price at the auctions.