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Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica

Main | Family List (MO) | Family List (INBio) | Cutting Edge
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The Cutting Edge

Volume X, Number 2, April 2003

News and Notes |Recent Treatments | Leaps and Bounds | Germane Literature | Season's Pick

"MANUAL" SPROUTS YET ANOTHER VOLUME. Now that we've seen the page-proofs for our two monocot volumes, we have a much better idea of the number of species that can be comfortably accommodated in a single tome. The second monocot volume (Orchidaceae through Zingiberaceae), with 1861 spp., actually pushes the envelope (at more than 900 pages). In light of this, we've had to reappraise the apportionment of dicot families among volumes that was announced in a previous issue [see The Cutting Edge 7(1): 2, Jan. 2000]. Rather than three dicot volumes, we will now have four, along these lines:

Vol. 4: Dicotiledóneas (Acanthaceae-Clethraceae); ca. 1345 spp. Vol. 5: Dicotiledóneas (Clusiaceae-Gunneraceae); ca. 1300+ spp. Vol. 6: Dicotiledóneas (Hamamelidaceae-Piperaceae); ca. 1330 spp. Vol. 7: Dicotiledóneas (Plantaginaceae-Zygophyllaceae); ca. 1397 spp.

At this point, we are still missing manuscripts for major families in all four dicot volumes. Thus, we cannot simply push ahead and publish these volumes in numerical order; they will instead be published in random order, according to which volume is nearest completion. Our best calculations at the present time suggest that Vol. 6 will be published first (although we still lack treatments for several important families, especially Malpighiaceae, Melastomataceae, Myrtaceae, and Piperaceae). The next most likely candidate is Vol. 7, with Sapotaceae and Solanaceae manuscripts outstanding. Third in the sequence figures to be Vol. 5, for which the large family Fabaceae looms as problematic, and finally Vol. 4, with Acanthaceae, Annonaceae, Asclepiadaceae, and Boraginaceae being the main monkey-wrenches in the works.

CALL FOR MANUSCRIPTS. We are contacting each specialist individually, and for the most part have comfortable assurances that deadlines will be met. Nevertheless, we should reiterate that the only way we can get the Manual finished in a timely manner is for contributors to submit their manuscripts on schedule. Unfortunately, the kind and much-revered souls who do so are at the mercy of those who won't or can't. Punctual completion of outstanding family drafts will therefore be appreciated by one and all. And if you won't chop the wood (to paraphrase an old Costa Rican saw), at least lend the hatchet: our Costa Rican colleagues are always eager for new treatments to take on, especially where smaller families are concerned.

RARE OPPORTUNITY. Manual co-PI Mike Grayum was able to escape to Costa Rica for the first time since 1998. He was there for all of January, mostly in the field, collecting on the Península de Santa Elena (a serpentine massif, and the driest part of the country) with funding from the National Geographic Society. This work could not have been accomplished without the assistance of Área de Conservación Guanacaste field coordinator María Marta Chavarría and her crew, especially Adrián Guadamuz and resident botanical wizard Roberto ('Lupo') Espinoza. The success of the venture also owes to the enthusiastic participation of several of INBio's very best, José González, Alexánder ('Popeye') Rodríguez, and jefe Nelson Zamora. Three words sum up the experience: hot, windy, and dry (and increasingly so as the month progressed). As the terrain became ever drier, roads opened and access to the more remote parts of the peninsula improved, but fewer and fewer plant species could be found in flower; as a result, the first two weeks were the most productive. Botanical highlight of the trip? Although most of our material has yet to be studied, the honors may well go to the rare root-parasite Bdallophytum americanum (R. Br.) Eichler ex Solms (Rafflesiaceae), just the second report for Costa Rica, afflicting Bursera schlechtendalii Engl. (Burseraceae) on the ridge between Playa Nancite and Playa Naranjo. The adventure highlight? On the final day, through a fairly rough sea in a small fishing boat, around nearly the full perimeter of the peninsula to remote Punta El Respingue, on the south coast, with dunes and a spring-fed lagoon. Next time we'll bring our wet-suits! Three more botanical inventories of the peninsula are slated, with the next tentatively scheduled for August.

IN THROUGH THE OUT DOOR. In our last issue, we reported that the Museo Nacional had a new director, Eduardo Faith Jiménez. He is no more. “Tired of the political and budgetary obstacles that impeded his work“ (quoting the Costa Rican daily La Nación in translation), Faith tendered his resignation, effective 15 March. “The Museo has internal problems accumulated over many years and needs a profound restructuring, but the resources necessary to accomplish this do not exist, and I don't want to be the executioner who delivers the death blow to the institution“ (again translating from La Nación). The recent financial crisis stems from the elimination of an exit-visa tax that generated approximately 20% of the Museo's annual budget. According to Faith, the budgetary shortfall threatens to provoke the closure of the Museo Nacional. We fervently hope it never comes to that.

ALSO GONE, BUT NOT LOST. Former and long-time INBio parataxonomist Reinaldo Aguilar has accepted a position with OTS to work at the Estación Biológica La Selva, more or less in the position formerly held by one-time Manual collector Orlando Vargas. Congratulations, Rey! Keep in touch, and may the “Plant-of-the-Day“ presentations be revitalized and Bungsdorfia yet be found at La Selva!

ONE FOOT OUT THE DOOR. Manual co-PI Nelson Zamora has also taken on duties (part-time) at La Selva. He has programmed one week per month out of his busy schedule to help OTS plan and bring to fruition an electronic flora of La Selva. Nelson was a very appropriate choice for this project; may it now reach an authoritative and timely completion.

VISITATIONS. Recently visiting INBio (27 March-16 April) was Yeshey Dorji, master's student of Bette Loiselle at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Yeshey was there to learn about INBio operations for his return to Bhutan, where he will be associated with the Bhutanese national herbarium and botanical garden. Bhutan, by the way, is almost exactly the same size as Costa Rica and (according to Yeshey) has even more (28%) of its wildlands protected in national parks and reserves. We expect he is the first and last Bhutanese most of us will ever encounter! And speaking of Orlando Vargas (see above): he turned up unexpectedly at MO during the first week of February, identifying plant collections from his new post, upslope from La Selva [see The Cutting Edge 9(2): 1, Apr. 2002].


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