BEN # 107

Adolf Ceska aceska at CUE.BC.CA
Sat Jul 22 10:35:16 EST 1995


BBBBB    EEEEEE   NN   N             ISSN 1188-603X
BB   B   EE       NNN  N
BBBBB    EEEEE    NN N N             BOTANICAL
BB   B   EE       NN  NN             ELECTRONIC
BBBBB    EEEEEE   NN   N             NEWS

No. 107                              July 22, 1995

aceska at freenet.victoria.bc.ca        Victoria, B.C.
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 Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2
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BIODIVERSITY ICEBERGS - INVISIBLE MICRODIVERSITY MATTERS MOST
From: Dr. Alan Austin, Biology Department, 
      University of Victoria, Victoria, B.C., Canada

Despite Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, the electron microscope,  flesh-
eating  bacteria  and  the  AIDS virus our particular species is
still preoccupied by things large,  visible,  warm  blooded  and
furry  and with which we seem to be, at least somewhat, emotion-
ally involved. We thus spend a good deal of our resources worry-
ing, rightly so, about seals,  cariboo,  deer,  whales,  spotted
owls,  the spectacular forest giants and associated elegant wild
flowers. Much of our concerns about  biodiversity  are  centered
upon  these  larger creatures, for they are large, visible, more
easily inventoried and losses recognised.

However, there exists another level of  threat  to  biodiversity
and  we  might need to ponder upon losses at not just of species
but at order, family, class and even phylum  (division)  levels.
Such  losses  are  strongly  suggested  by  the fact that higher
taxonomical categories are still being discovered in some groups
of organisms! The 1994 AAAS Systematics  Agenda  2000,  Charting
The Biosphere [see BEN # 71] printed a most revealing chart that
showed  us  the  relationship  between  the estimated numbers of
species to be discovered as a factor of those already described.
Most of the organisms we can see, and rather easily count,  have
a  very  small factors. The usually attractive large mammals, in
fact all vertebrates, are only  about  x 0.1  of  those  already
known,  for  plants it is just x 2, for Crustaceans times 4, but
undescribed bacteria are between  10  and  750 (!)  times  those
known and for algae between 5 and 250 times those already known!

This  may  not  be  surprising  to a phycologist who like myself
through a  lifetime  of  teaching  from  fresh  field-collected,
living  materials  can be regularly mystified by seeing unknowns
at almost every laboratory session, despite experience in  macro
marine algae from several bioregions as well as micro marine and
freshwater  forms. Non phycologists may be unaware that not only
new species, genera families and orders, but higher taxon levels
keep appearing. A new class, the  Pelagophyceae  (uniflagellate,
golden-brown, ultraplanctonic organisms) was described two years
ago  and a new division (phylum) the Chloroarachiophyceae (green
web-like colonies) a few years previously. Most sensational  was
the  discovery by Lewin, twenty years ago, of Prochloron, one of
the critical missing links between superkingdoms Prokaryota  and
Eukaryota.

Now  in  view of the fact that the next major limiting factor in
the course of human population development, at about 2020,  will
be the diminished freshwater resources, we may wish to encourage
our students to splash around in the various water bodies as the
lake  litorals,  ponds,  pools and streams which teem with these
vitally important little coloured plants  that  continue  to  be
seriously neglected. We have just 20 years to get them found and
named,  let  alone  inventoried, before the pressures upon water
supplies may massively alter their continued presence.

Biodiversity is not a entirely modern phenomenon - and it is  an
alga,  Grypanis spiralis, just recently described from old rock,
that has pushed back, some 300 million years,  the  evolutionary
date for the, rather critical, arrival of oxygen on our planet.

Finally  when  considering  an  ancient  assemblage such as "the
algae" we may be looking at a swarm of "experimental  organisms"
that fall together in natural phylogenetic division but may have
very few representatives living today in our much threatened and
exploited  terrestrial  and  marine  waters.  The destruction of
these habitats may result  not  just  in  the  extinction  of  a
species  level  taxon,  which  may  be  filled  by another quite
similar form but the loss of  totally  unique  and  unrepeatable
biological  entities  at  the  division level. How much would we
have lost, and not learned, if the habitats  of  say  Prochloron
had  vanished  before Ralph Lewin found it and recognised it for
what it was?

We need to develop, particularly in the very young,  a  form  of
emotional  attraction for identification with the very small and
seemingly insignificant, for these forms actually  maintain  the
functional  integrity  of  all  aquatic  systems.  They are also
exquisitely beautiful and exhibit adaptive design to gladden the
heart even of the most modest members of the stumbling, blunder-
ing, misguided, and misguiding species of which it is so easy to
say as did Grouch Marx, "I wouldn't join a  club  which  had  me
(Homo sapiens) as a member!?"


BRITISH COLUMBIA SIX THOUSAND YEARS BEFORE PRESENT

Hebda, R.J. 1995. British Columbia vegetation and climate 
      history with focus on 6 KA BP.
      Geographie physique et Quaternaire, 49: 55-79.

ABSTRACT: British Columbia Holocene vegetation  and  climate  is
reconstructed  from  pollen  records.  A  coastal Pinus contorta
paleobiome developed after glacier retreat under cool and  prob-
ably  dry  climate.  Cool  moist forests involving Picea, Abies,
Tsuga spp., and Pinus followed until the early Holocene. Pseudo-
tsuga menziesii arrived and spread in the south 10 000-9000  BP,
and  Picea  sitchensis - Tsuga heterophylla forests developed in
the north. T. heterophylla increased 7500-7000 BP,  and  Cupres-
saceae  expanded 5000-4000 BP. Bogs began to develop and expand.
Modern vegetation arose 4000-2000 BP. There were early  Holocene
grass  and  Artemisia  communities  at  mid-elevations  and pine
stands at high elevations  in  southern  interior  B.C.  Forests
expanded downslope and lakes formed 8500-7000 BP. Modern forests
arose 4500-4000 BP while lower and upper tree lines declined. In
northern  B.C. non-arboreal communities preceded middle Holocene
Picea forests. Abies, Pinus and Picea  mariana  predominated  at
various  sites  after  4000  BP.  AT  6000 BP Tsuga heterophylla
(south) and Picea sitchensis (north)  dominated  the  coast  and
islands  and  Quercus garryana and Pseudotsuga on southeast Van-
couver Island, but Thuja plicata was infrequent. Southern  Inte-
rior  Plateau  vegetation at 6000 BP was more open than today at
middle to lower elevations, whereas forests covered the Northern
Interior  Plateau.  Picea  forests  occurred  in  northern  B.C.
Holocene  climate  phases  were  : 1) warm dry "xerothermic" ca.
9500-7000 BP, 2) warm moist "mesothermic" ca. 7000-4500  BP,  3)
moderate and moist 4500-0 BP, with increasing moisture 8500-6000
BP  and  cooling  (?increased  moisture)  4500-3000  BP. B. C.'s
Hypsithermal had dry and wet stages; 6000  BP  occurred  in  the
warm and wet mesothermic stage.


INTRODUCING THE CANADIAN BOTANICAL CONSERVATION NETWORK (CBCN)
From: d.galbraith at genie.geis.com [abbrev.]

The  Canadian Botanical Conservation Network is a new initiative
to develop participation in biodiversity  conservation  programs
among   ex-situ  botanical  institutions  and  organizations  in
Canada. CBCN is presently a project of Royal  Botanical  Gardens
with  partners  Environment  Canada,  McMaster  University,  and
corporate partners Merck Frosst Canada Inc.,  and  Glaxo  Canada
Inc.

The  objective  of  CBCN  is to develop a national network among
Canadian botanical organizations for their participation in  the
Canadian  Biodiversity  Strategy.  The  project  is at the early
development stage and  is  based  at  Royal  Botanical  Gardens.
Fifteen  organizations have expressed an interest in participat-
ing in the network. Funding support has  been  secured  for  the
first two years of the project.

At  both  the  national and international levels there are calls
for the organized participation of  botanical  gardens  and  ar-
boreta  in  cooperative conservation efforts. These voices range
from the Convention  on  Biological  Diversity  (the  1992  "Rio
Convention")  to  the  1995  Canadian  Biodiversity Strategy and
reports from a Canadian  group  examining  off  site  (ex  situ)
propagation of plants.

During  the  past  decade  there has been an effort to develop a
professional  network  to  coordinate  ex-situ  conservation  of
native  and non-native species among botanical organizations. In
1984 the Canadian Plant Conservation Programme was  established,
but  this lasted only a few years. More recently a Plant Collec-
tions Newsletter has been produced at Devonian Botanic  Gardens,
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta.

It  is  planned that the Canadian Botanical Conservation Network
will be a group of organizations and individuals cooperating  to
promote  the  conservation  of  botanical  genetic resources and
biological diversity across Canada. The objective of the network
will be to  develop  active  participation  in  coordinated  in-
situ/ex-situ  conservation  efforts  for  native and rare exotic
plants in Canada.

A great deal  of  information  on  botanical  diversity  already
exists  in  botanical  gardens,  universities and other research
centres. A majority role for CBCN will be to seek  new  ways  to
provide  wide  access  to  existing data. CBCN will look for new
areas for research and development in biodiversity  conservation
programs and promote new projects. There are also many important
opportunities for public education, commercial participation and
cultural enhancement inherent within CBCN.

In  the future, a wide variety of information will be accessible
through CBCN, using the Internet in  addition  to  more  conven-
tional  routes.  The Canadian Botanical Conservation Network has
already established an Internet World Wide Web  home  page  that
provides  information on the CBCN project, and numerous links to
other sources of information. Visitors to the Web page can  find
details  on Canadian and international programs on biodiversity,
genetic resources, botany,  biology  and  ecological  gardening.
Environment  Canada  and McMaster University can also be reached
through the Web. A directory of Canadian botanical  gardens  and
arboreta is also available through the CBCN home page.

The  prototype  CBCN  home  page  can  be  reached  through  the
Internet's World Wide Web protocol. The URL address (case sensi-
tive) for the CBCN home page is:

http://www.science.mcmaster.ca/Biology/CBCN/homepage.html

I would be grateful to receive your comments and suggestions  on
this project. Please drop me a line for more information or with
your ideas.

Thanks for your attention,

   Dr. David A. Galbraith - Coordinator
   CANADIAN BOTANICAL CONSERVATION NETWORK
   at Royal Botanical Gardens
   P.O. Box 399
   Hamilton, Ontario
   Canada  L8N 3H8

   Email: D.Galbraith at genie.geis.com
   Tel: (905) 527-1158, Ext. 295
   Fax: (905) 577-0375



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