BEN # 258

Adolf Ceska aceska at victoria.tc.ca
Wed Oct 11 21:46:12 EST 2000


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No. 258                              October 11, 2000

aceska at victoria.tc.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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ROBERT ORNDUFF (1932-2000)

Botanist  Robert  Ornduff,  an  expert  on California plants and
former director of  the  University  of  California,  Berkeley's
Botanical  Garden, died Sept. 22 at Alta Bates Medical Center in
Berkeley from complications of metastatic melanoma.  Ornduff,  a
professor  emeritus  of integrative biology  at UC Berkeley, was
68.

Ornduff was a field biologist  who  concentrated  on  California
native  plants  as  well as plants that grow in similar Mediter-
ranean climates, such as in South Africa and Western  Australia.
His  book,  "_Introduction to California Plant Life_" (UC Press,
1974), is still in print and is a popular layman's  field  guide
to  one  of  the  most varied floras in the world. He also was a
longtime member of  the  California  Native  Plant  Society  and
served  as  editorial  advisor for its publication, _Fremontia_,
for 27 years.

"Bob was a very, very caring person  and  a  great  teacher  who
deeply  loved  and  appreciated  plants,"  said Peter Raven, his
friend for the past  45  years  and  director  of  the  Missouri
Botanical  Garden,  an  organization  dedicated to the study and
conservation of the floras of the New World. "This came  through
in  one  of  his biggest contributions, which was turning the UC
Botanical Garden into a world-class garden and a  leading  place
for  studying  and  displaying  the unique variety of California
plants."

Ornduff directed the garden from 1973 until 1991, expanding  its
plant  collection  to  include  specimens  from areas like South
Africa and Chile that have similar  Mediterranean  climates.  He
was particularly proud of the docent program he instituted while
there, said Phyllis Faber, co-editor with Ornduff of the Natural
History Series at University of California Press.

During  his  48-year  career, Ornduff wrote more than 100 scien-
tific papers and 50 other papers on  horticultural  and  related
topics.  His  interests  ranged  from  the giant sequoias of the
Sierra Nevada to  the  small  but  showy  yellow  flower  called
goldfields  that  carpet  California's  Central  Valley  in  the
spring.

"Bob was one of the treasures  of  the  botanical  world,"  said
Arthur  Kruckeberg,  professor emeritus of botany at the Univer-
sity of Washington, Seattle, and one of Ornduff's  mentors.  "He
was  a  green-thumb botanist who delighted in growing plants and
disseminating his interest to the general public."

Among his abiding interests, however, were the unusual reproduc-
tive strategies of plants and how they evolved. After encounter-
ing early in his  career  a  peculiar  fall-blooming  California
plant  called  _Jepsonia_,  he  got interested in heterostyly, a
peculiarity of some plants where a single species  develops  two
or  three  different types of flowers that encourage outcrossing
and discourage self-pollination.

He also was fascinated by the plants  that  evolved  to  inhabit
small  islands - essentially rocks frequented by birds - that he
referred to as guano islands, Kruckeberg said.

Born in Portland, Oregon, on June  13,  1932,  Ornduff  attended
Reed  College,  graduating  in  1953  with a BA in biology. As a
Fulbright Scholar, he spent the next year in New Zealand,  where
he  collected  material  for his thesis. He completed his MSc at
the University of Washington in 1956 and his PhD at UC  Berkeley
in 1961.

After a year teaching biology at Reed College and a year at Duke
University,  he  returned  to  UC Berkeley in 1963 to assume the
faculty position of his retiring major professor, Herbert Mason.
Ornduff retired in 1993.

As a  botany  professor,  he  instituted  a  popular  course  on
California  flora  that  he  taught  for 30 years. The notes and
experiences  teaching  this  course  resulted  in  his  book  on
California's plant life. He also wrote two chapters for a recent
book,  "_California's Wild Gardens: A Living Legacy_," edited by
Faber and published by the California Native Plant Society.

His other positions while at UC  Berkeley  included  curator  of
seed  plants  and, eventually, director from 1967 to 1982 of the
University  Herbarium;  director  of  the  Jepson  Herbarium,  a
repository  for  California  plants, from 1968 to 1982; chair of
the Department of Botany from 1986 until 1989, when the  depart-
ment was reorganized into the Department of Integrative Biology;
and  executive  director  of the Miller Institute at UC Berkeley
from 1984 to 1987.

Ornduff was involved with  many  plant  and  plant  conservation
organizations.  In  addition to being a fellow of the California
Native Plant Society, at the time of his death he was  a  member
of  the board of councilors of the Save-the-Redwoods League, the
board of directors of the Pacific Horticultural  Foundation  and
the  board  of  trustees of the Center for Plant Conservation, a
national organization dedicated to preserving  rare  and  endan-
gered  plants  of the United States. He also served as president
of the California Botanical Society in 1981-82, and was a  long-
time trustee of UC Berkeley's Jepson Herbarium.

For  the past eight years, he was grants director of The Stanley
Smith Horticultural Trust, which funds research and education in
horticulture. Ornduff  redirected  the  trust's  grants  towards
small gardens and publication projects both in the United States
and abroad.

He  also  served  as  president of the American Society of Plant
Taxonomists in 1975 and chaired the editorial  committee  of  UC
Press from 1975 to 1989.

Among  his  honors  were an Award of Merit from the American As-
sociation of Botanical Gardens  and  Arboreta  (1993),  a  Merit
Award  from  the  Botanical Society of America (1993) and the F.
Owen Pearce Award of Horticulture from the Strybing Arboretum in
San Francisco (1994).

Ornduff, a resident of Berkeley, is survived by a  sister,  Anne
Vial, of Lake Oswego, Oregon.

   Bob Sanders, Senior Science Writer
   Media Relations, Public Affairs
   University of California
   Berkeley, CA  94720-4204
   email: rls at pa.urel.berkeley.edu


NEW BOOK: FUNCTIONAL ECOLOGY OF ALPINE PLANTS
From: Adolf Ceska [aceska at victoria.tc.ca]

Koerner,  Christian.  [correctly K”rner with umlauted "o"] 1999.
   _Alpine plant life: Functional plant ecology of high mountain
   ecosystems_. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, New York. vi +  338
   p. + 4 Plates.
   ISBN 3-540-65054-7 [hardcover] Price: US$119.00
   ISBN 3-540-65438-0 [softcover] Price: US$64.95

   Available from:
   Springer-Verlag New York, Inc., 175 Fifth Avenue
   New York, NY 10010 USA
   Phone: 212-460-1500 Fax: 212-473-6272

   Springer-Verlag New York's website:
   http://www.springer-ny.com/
   (see also http://www.springer.de)

This  book  should  be  required  reading for all ecologists and
ecology students. Alpine environments  are  extreme,  and  plant
responses  to  these  extremes  are unique. The author considers
alpine areas to be sites of grandiose natural experiments "which
provide unbeaten opportunities for  comparative  ecological  re-
search,  the  study  of  plant adaptation and the mechanisms for
survival of physical stress." For this reason,  alpine  environ-
ments  have attracted generations of plant scientists. Koerner's
book gives us a nice summary of alpine plant studies and  covers
all parts of the world, including the tropics.

In  the  introductory  chapters,  the  author describes the main
physical parameters  of  the  alpine  environment,  climate  and
soils, and deals with the impact of the main parameters (such as
snow)  on  alpine  plants  and alpine ecosystems. Other chapters
deal with physiological ecology of water and nutrient  relations
of  alpine  plants,  their  photosynthesis,  growth  physiology,
biomass production and plant reproduction. The  closing  chapter
covers  global  changes  and  human  impacts on plants in alpine
environments. The author tried to present the reader  with  "the
bulk  of  scientific  findings"  related  to  alpine plants in a
reasonably  condensed  way.  There  is  an  amazing  amount   of
references  (close to 1,000) that help the users of the book who
want to look for more detail.

The treatment of these topics is thorough and  in-depth.  Modern
treatment  of  alpine  ecology  and the inclusion of tropics and
good treatment of tropical alpine environments makes  this  book
unique.  I would have expected more on plant communities and the
role of competition in alpine  environments,  and  also  a  more
thorough  coverage  of animal-plant relationships. The latter is
covered only in a subchapter on  "Biomass  losses  through  her-
bivores"  and  in a subchapter on pollination. In the chapter on
mountain climates, the author  failed  to  mention  Jan  Jenik's
anemo-orographic  systems (see _Preslia_ 31: 337-357, 1959) that
explain many vegetation patterns in  high  mountains.  Koerner's
book  is written in clear English, but it is marked with notice-
able German syntax. Too many subordinate clauses and parentheti-
cal phrases require good mental concentration; the  book  cannot
be  read  in  large strides. The lack of a glossary is a serious
oversight; should I be ashamed that I don't know what Fick's law
of diffusion is?

The book is beautifully produced,  richly  illustrated  and,  in
spite  of  my  critical  comments,  the best modern treatment of
"functional ecology" of alpine plants. Springer Verlag has found
a significant niche in publishing cornerstones of  ecophysiology
such  as  Larcher's _Physiological Plant Ecology_. In publishing
the _Alpine Plant  Life_,  Springer  Verlag  has  added  another
valuable  classic  to  their repertoire. Both the author and the
publisher should be commended for this book.

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