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The Cutting Edge
Volume XXVI, Number 4, October 2019
News and Notes |
Leaps and Bounds | Germane Literature | Season's Pick | Annotate your copy
SYMPOSIUM AFTERMATH. We had previously [see this column in The Cutting Edge 25(3), Jul. 2018] advised our readers of a symposium focusing on the southern Caribbean region of Costa Rica, slated to take place at the Universidad de Costa Rica during 9–11 July 2019. We were not ourselves involved in the proceedings, but ANAI's Bill McLarney, a member of the organizing committee, reports that "it was a great meeting." The venue and dates remained as indicated in our initial announcement, but the title was changed slightly, to: "The southern Caribbean of Costa Rica: biodiversity, environmental health, protection and challenges in a little studied region." Botany was well represented, with Alex Monro (K) addressing the upland portion of the region and Manuel Morales the lowlands. A 70-page summary report (with both English and Spanish versions) provides ample evidence of the ambition, professionalism, and breadth of subject matter that were brought to bear for this event. Congratulations to one all!
HERE AND THERE. Florian Etl, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Vienna (Austria), was on hand at MO during the first half of October, along with his girlfriend (also a biologist) Corinna Ehn. Both have been working (Florian for the past decade) in Costa Rica at the La Gamba Field Station, near Golfito. While in St. Louis, Florian worked closely with Monica Carlsen (with whom he has been collaborating), as well as New World Araceae authority Tom Croat and Manual co-PI Mike Grayum, and delivered a well-received talk entitled "Pollination biology of Neotropical Araceae: the role of floral scents." Florian and Corinna also spent a lot of time in Tom's greenhouse, observing the flowering behavior of various aroids and collecting floral scents. We wish them well in their future studies! Meanwhile, Manual collaborator Daniel Santamaría escaped from his routine at the Big Red Bat for a brief visit with family, friends, herbaria, and field back in Costa Rica during the month of July. Although the one field trip he made, specifically to look for material of a certain Virola (Myristicaceae), was not for that reason particularly successful, it deserves a full 21-horn salute for other reasons (see under "Leaps and Bounds"). Peripatetic Monstera expert and recent Alwyn H. Gentry Fellowship alumnus Marco Cedeño (USJ) is hard to keep track of, but we do know that he was recently (at the beginning of October) in Panama at the phenomenal Cerro Jefe, visiting our mutual (e-mail) aquaintances Jerry and Linda Harrison and gathering material of Monstera spp., new and otherwise.
FAREWELL RLD. FAREWELL. By now most of our readers will have become aware of the passing, on 15 October, of Robert Louis Dressler (1927–2019), one of the premier neotropical field botanists of his and our time. Bob obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Southern California with a dissertation on the genus Pedilanthus (Euphorbiaceae), but went on to achieve his greatest fame as a specialist on Orchidaceae. Having authored such classic works as The orchids: natural history and classification (1981) and Field guide to the orchids of Costa Rica and Panama (1993), Bob forged ahead to coordinate masterfully the Orchidaceae treatment for the Manual (2003), and was one of the main contributors to the Flora mesoamericana orchid volume (as yet unpublished). While never a big "numbers" type of collector, Bob Dressler capitalized on his unmatched knowledge of the flora and terrain, concentrating his efforts on rich and unexplored forests (especially in Panama) to ferret out the most intriguing material with laser focus. His discriminating ways yielded a plethora of new records and new taxa, with the result that an amazing number of new taxa have been named in his honor (a quick-and-dirty search in TROPICOS scares up ca. 100 spp.). As we once suggested in these pages, few if any living botanists had been immortalized with more genus names (at least five)—and who now will claim that honor? Bob Dressler spent his final years in Costa Rica, where he passed away, at 92 years of age, following surgery for a broken hip. We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Kerry Ann. And we have just now been informed of the death, on 22 October, of Vicki A. Funk (US), well known in the international botanical community for her work on Asteraceae. From a Costa Rican standpoint, Vicki is perhaps most appreciated for her 1982 revision of Montanoa (Asteraceae), as well as her botanical field work in the country; she collected in Costa Rica on several occasions (most recently in 1990, as far as we know), focusing especially on Volcán Arenal and vicinity.