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Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica

Main | Family List (MO) | Family List (INBio) | Cutting Edge
Draft Treatments | Guidelines | Checklist | Citing | Editors

The Cutting Edge

Volume XI, Number 4, October 2004

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

MANUAL HOOPLA. Now that the first three Manual volumes are in hand (see “Germane Literature,” under Hammel et al.), it is time for the formalities to commence. A ceremony to be held at the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica on 26 October will convene all botanists known to be in the country, as well as numerous associated administrators and conservation managers and appropriate politicos. This will be the first formal public announcement of the project in Costa Rica, and a gift of our initial three volumes will be presented to the Costa Rican people. One can only hope that libations will be on hand!

JUST DESSERTS. Congratulations to our dear friend María Marta Chavarría, scientific field coordinator for the Área de Conservación Guanacaste, on being one of just eight scientists and environmental advocates from around the world to receive a Biodiversity Leadership Award, conferred by The Bay Foundation and the Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul Foundation of New York City. According to the announcement that reached us (dated 3 August), the awards ranged from $60,000 to $180,000, but exactly who got what is unclear. Whatever the case, no strings are attached, and winners are free to use their awards in any way they see fit. We have known María Marta for more than 20 years, and she is the real deal: a brilliant and active field biologist who is equally adept at public relations and all levels of administration. Field work in the Guanacaste region would be unthinkable without her involvement. A more deserving recipient of this award could scarcely be imagined.

LA SELVA FLORA PROJECT PROGRESSES. As noted in this column in our last issue, the project to produce a florula of the Estación Biológica La Selva, long in gestation, has recently gone back on track. With renewed financial support from the National Science Foundation, the final push is now progessing furiously on two fronts: in the United States, Charlotte Taylor (MO) is coordinating a massive effort, mainly involving DUKE and MO, to database all the plant specimens ever collected at La Selva; meanwhile, at La Selva, a group (see below) helmed by Manual co-PI Nelson Zamora (INB) is busily completing manuscripts, electronic keys, and digital photographs (of at least two specimens per sp.). As a means of demonstrating our interest in and support for this critically important project, we have agreed to begin featuring new La Selva records in our “Leaps and Bounds” column (see under Euphorbiaceae and Onagraceae, this issue).

NEW ORCHID SERIES ANNOUNCED. The Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR) and the Jardín Lankester have undertaken to begin publishing a comprehensive, illustrated account of Costa Rican orchids, in three deluxe volumes, to be entitled Vanishing beauty—Frágil belleza. Each volume will comprise more than 400 pages and be illustrated with more than 400 large, color photographs, the majority by editor and co-author Franco Pupulin (we are guessing that the photographs do not figure into the page count). Among the nearly 1400 spp. to be included will be various spp. not yet described (which, we presume, will be formally validated in this work). The volumes will be published initially in Engish (later in Spanish), apparently in serial fashion, in editions to be limited, in part, by advance sales. A promotional exhibition, featuring large-format reproductions of Pupulin’s photos, was staged at UCR during most of September, and a 2005 calendar (also in limited addition) is now being sold. Prices are not mentioned in the blurb that we have seen, nor is there any explicit indication of whom to contact for purchasing information.

Our reaction to this announcement? Profound relief, that the Manual Orchidaceae treatment (which, by the way, accounts for a mere 1318 spp.) was published before all of this hit the fan!

TRANSITIONS. Former INB curator José González has accepted a position at the Estación Biológica La Selva, where he is now a key player in the effort to complete a florula of the site (see above). José replaces former parataxonomist Reinaldo Aguilar, who decided to return to his beloved Península de Osa, where he expects to oversee a biological station near Piro (at the southern end of the peninsula) being planned by famed author Adrian Forsyth and botanist John P. Janovec (BRIT). Meanwhile, Sarapiquí native Orlando Vargas, whose intimate familiarity with the La Selva flora dates back to his teen years, has returned to work part-time on the flora project.

TO AND FRO. Manual co-PI Barry Hammel resided during 23 August–4 October at MO, where he spent virtually all of his time preparing a proposal for continued funding of the project and finishing up the editing on our Malvaceae treatment. Isabel Pérez was by his side the entire time, working on a voluntary basis to enter specimen data and recent Malvaceae determinations onto TROPICOS. INB curator Francisco Morales also passed through, on a stateside herbarium swing (6–16 September) that included US as well as MO. Meanwhile, MO Asteraceae curator John Pruski traveled to Costa Rica from 2–28 September in search of early-blooming Asteraceae, in the company of Gisela Sancho (LP). This was Gisela's first trip to Costa Rica, and John's first since 1978 when, as an LSU graduate student, he served time with Mason Hale (US), Shirley Tucker (LSU), and others as a member of the infamous, 20-member-strong, “lichenologists with pickaxes vs. Monteverde” entourage. Going straight from the airport to INBio, John and Gisela touched bases with their hosts, including Alexánder Rodríguez. At INBio, they picked up their collecting permit from Álvaro Herrera then, with the aid of vehicle and hotel reservations made by Hazel Ramírez, quickly headed into the field.

Pruski and Sancho collected near Atenas and San Mateo on their way to Jacó, and for the rest of their first week explored unpaved byways of Prov. Puntarenas from Puerto Quepos southward to Dominical, including a stop at Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio. From Dominical, they headed straight up via San Isidro de El General to the Cordillera de Talamanca, finally returning to INBio by way of the Carretera Interamericana. Although it rained every day from mid-afternoon to near sunrise, their spirits were brightened by the many Linnean Asteraceae seen which, not surprisingly, included the pantropical Sphagneticola trilobata (L.) Pruski.

During their second and third weeks, Pruski and Sancho were joined by Alex Rodríguez, who (thankfully) came equipped with an INBio four-wheel-drive truck. A main purpose of their trip to Costa Rica was to collect DNA samples of the páramo-dwelling Lagenophora and Westoniella, so off to higher elevations they went. Their first stop (apart from mandatory roadside weed collecting) was at Volcán Irazú. There our crew spent two days, and were fortunate to be welcomed to sleep and dry off a bit at the park's quarters for employees, just downhill from the park entrance. One of the many interesting genera observed on Volcán Irazú was Chionolaena, which was just coming into flower. John's Asteraceae treatment for the flora of the Venezuelan Guayana Highlands included Chionolaena latifolia (Benth.) Baker, there found only on Cerro Marahuaca, where John has never been. Thus, seeing Chionolaena in the flesh was an absolute highlight for him. From Irazú, Alex, Gisela, and John went directly to Villa Mills (on Cerro de La Muerte), their headquarters for the next several days. Nearby cerros visited were Buena Vista, Sákira, and Asunción; other interesting areas, including the base of Cerro Jaboncillo, were also explored. Lagenophora and Westoniella were found the first day on Cerro Buena Vista, although only Lagenophora was blooming. A large population of fruiting Lagenophora was found near Cerro Jaboncillo, and a single individual was found on the north side of the summit of Cerro Sákira (the type locality of L. sakirana Cuatrec.). Collecting Lagenophora was a highlight for everyone, as only Gisela had previously seen the genus (and then only in Argentina).

The final week of collecting began one Monday at sunrise, when INBio’s Armando Soto ferried our three synantherologists to Parque Nacional Chirripó, dropping them off at 1350 m elevation at the head of the 15-km-long trail at noon. This was Alex's second trip to Chirripó, following a five-years hiatus; he quickly scurried up to a shelter at the 7-km marker, then waited an hour for John and Gisela, replete with full backpacks, to finally drag themselves in. The hiking got rougher, and the last three hours of the nine-hour climb were accomplished by flashlight in yet another driving rainstorm. The group reached the Crestones shelters, at 3350 m elevation, at 9:00 P.M., and had to awaken the park rangers for entry.

For the next several days, our group collected on all sides of the peak, but the best area for Asteraceae was in the Valle de Los Conejos. All five Costa Rican spp. of Westoniella were found, as well as several populations of Lagenophora , but sadly not L. westonii Cuatrec., which occurs on the back (north) side of Cerro Chirripó in the Valle de Las Morenas/Valle de Los Lagos area. However, Iltisia echandiensis R. M. King & H. Rob. was encountered in that area, constituting a new record for Parque Nacional Chirripó. Other spectacular daisies found were Crassocephalum crepidioides (Benth.) S. Moore, Diplostephium costaricense S. F. Blake, Gamochaeta standleyi (Steyerm.) G. L. Nesom,Jungia ferruginea L. f., Laestadia costaricensis S. F. Blake, Roldana heterogama (Benth.) H. Rob. & Brettell, Selloa breviligulata Longpre, Senecio hansweberi Cuatrec., and the suddenly ubiquitous Chionolaena (which as it turns out, was locally common in most of the localities visited). At week's end Alex, Gisela, and John gutted out the 15-km return hike down to the park headquarters, John slipping and breaking a big toe during a rainstorm; Armando returned Friday afternoon to fetch the three exhausted hikers. Our group reached INBio at 9:00 P.M. and pressed plants until midnight, before heading their separate ways: Alex home to his family in San Ramón, Gisela to Argentina, and John to St. Louis via NY, where he spent a week in the herbarium.

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