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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].