Glasnevin, Ireland
Glasnevin, Ireland

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Parnell J.A.N.,Trinity College Dublin | Pilla F.,Trinity College Dublin | Simpson C.D.A.,Herbarium | Van Welzen P.C.,Naturalis Biodiversity Center | And 44 more authors.
Thai Forest Bulletin (Botany) | Year: 2015

Arthur Francis George Kerr's life is reviewed and related to a previously published account. Kerr's collecting activity is analysed using an expanded version of the Thai Biogeography Group's database of collections. 8,666 of the total 48,970 collections are Kerr's and 3,178 are those of his colleagues and friends. Therefore, the total number of collections made by Kerr and his acquaintances is likely to be larger and more diverse than previously believed. Mapping of these data using GIS show that Kerr's collecting activities focussed on particular regions of Thailand at particular times. Also large areas of the country remained unexplored by Kerr and his acquaintances: a pattern that, to some extent, persists to this day. The large, but dispersed, archive of Kerr's photographs, maps, living collections and correspondence indicate that he was a skilled photographer (taking at least 3,000 images), cartographer (producing many hand-drawn maps) and exceptionally acute, accurate and detailed observer (fi lling numerous notebooks and leaving other records). It is clear that digitising these collections to form an on-line dedicated website is highly desirable to further progress on the fl ora of Thailand and surrounding countries and would form an unique record of the social history of early 20thC Thailand.


News Article | December 1, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

We live in an era in which humans have become the dominant force of change on the planet. First proclaimed at the turn of the millennium by the climate scientist Paul Crutzen, the Anthropocene asserts that since the Industrial Revolution, humans have altered the environment so extensively as to create a new geological epoch. It might seem an enormous subject to tackle with art, but in my projects I like to consider disciplines like physics from an artistic point of view, and to think about the larger context in which the Earth exists. Many of my works seek to merge the poetic and the scientific to delve into a field that’s unknown to me. It is through this context that my current project, an exhibition called Crystalline, has been percolating over the past few years. In 2010, my direct experience of Eyjafjallajökull erupting in Iceland catapulted my practice as a painter into working directly with the primary materials of geology and physics. Working on site next to a volcano felt like travelling to the centre of the Earth. Looking at seismology charts to explore how an earthquake can inscribe itself into scientific records I started to visualise these dark fluctuations as patterns generated by the forces of nature. My drawings of the unseen world of the microscopic brought a new form of alchemy into my paintings. In 2013, I was offered a place at Parity Studios, University College Dublin (UCD) and I am currently working on a commission for the school of biology and environmental science, which aims to rediscover the many hidden and inspiring collections in the university. To be working in a studio in school of Biology and Environmental Science at University College Dublin has enabled my collaboration with scientists to broach subjects at the edges of current scientific knowledge. Meeting with Jenny McElwain, professor of palaeobiology, opened the the depths of space and time for me, and prompted my curiosity in the period of time just before climate change was identified around 1820. This was a time of polar exploration just preceding the Industrial Revolution when humans started to etch ourselves into geological history. For the exhibition I am making a work called Cyathea australis, using the early tools of photography reducing this medium to its bare essentials in a series of photogenic drawings that interrogate an era before the Anthropocene. Jenny has been using fossilised leaves to reconstruct the ancient atmospheric carbon dioxide record from 330 to 260 million years ago, when large rainforests expanded throughout the tropics, leaving as their signature the world’s coal resources. In tandem with this scientific study, I set up a dark room in the atmospheric chambers to record the silhouettes of our earliest plants. Using silver nitrate and light I created a series of ghostly imprints generated by a 400-million-year-old atmosphere – an atmosphere so deadly that two inhalations would suffice to kill a person. This constricting and resonant environment calls to mind the fatal impact our collective activities have had on our planet. My research for this project was extended in 2015 when I found myself on a barkentine Arctic expedition in the same waters that had subsumed ships and Arctic explorers for hundreds of years. By 1823 the North American Arctic was still the last undiscovered ecosystem on the planet. It was a landscape so cold that it fractured everything it penetrated, including the stones. It was uncharted, unclaimed territory and Europeans had perished in it miserably. I was captivated by the story of the disappearance of the Franklin ships in 1845: the expedition of two vessels, HMS Terror and HMS Erebus, that vanished while searching for the Northwest Passage. I am retracing this territory by developing Unknown Landscapes, a series of oil paintings based on photographic plates from these expeditions. The cameras survived in the permafrost when the ships and crew disappeared into nothingness. The plates carry the melancholy and the magic of those frontier times. In September, the story of the 1845 Franklin Expedition hit the headlines again with the discovery of HMS Terror. I discovered that the doomed ship’s captain was an Irishman with a keen interest in botany. Thanks to his interest, buried in the Antiquities Department of the National Botanic Gardens is a superb collection of Arctic pressings from the 1825 Franklin expedition that have never been on public view. Matthew Jebb, the director, graciously opened the collection to me over the summer to extract some 75 seeds from the pressings. These seeds that belong to another time are an important finding as they represent that moment just before the industrial revolution that we can’t go back to. I am now developing a work, A Space And Time Outside, with the Millennium Seed Bank at Kew Gardens, to explore the potential life force of these seeds from the Arctic that have been around for close to 190 years. For the duration of the exhibition scientists will test the seeds as a live project. Another work related to the theme of the expedition stems from a collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) this summer. The piece is called Crystalline, which is also the overall title of the exhibition In this work, a series carbon works dominate the entrance of the exhibition hall. This work is a poetic response to the retreating Arctic glaciers that were mapped circa 1845, when the region was still a blank space. To make this installation, I am working with a material developed by scientists at an Irish company called Enbio. They have developed a revolutionary use for carbon, which is intriguing to me given that it is one of the most indestructible materials on the planet and essential to all forms of life on Earth. Each piece in my installation is coated with a pigment once used by early cave painters to coat the walls of their shelters. In spray painting the material, I am re-enacting the process used in space technology; engineers at Enbio will apply a contemporary version of the charcoal, made from carbon and burnt bone, to the outside of the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter. The spacecraft is due to launch in 2018 and will study the sun at unprecedentedly close proximity. The pigment will be added to the outside of a spacecraft’s titanium heat shield. The surfaces for Crystalline are also cured at high temperatures to create a motif of cracked and disjointed cartographies, which exude an air of shabby beauty. Their cracked surfaces seem both vulnerable and inveterate. A sound piece in the show is prompted by my experience of the Arctic shelf melting. On my Arctic research trip in 2015, I used a heliograph – a device that was historically used to record the sun. Tom McCormack, a physicist at UCD designed a version for me, which I attached to the binnacle of the expedition ship to create a response to the melting glaciers by recording a sound score of the sun’s track at the summer solstice. I recorded messages and pulses as the sun moved through the sky on 21June 2015 to produce a series of notations for the score. The burn holes created are photographic in the strictest sense, as each mark is a small black sun, and each dot is a repeat pattern of the sun’s image scaled down many million times on its journey to the Earth. In March 2017, an original music score by Irene Buckley, with recordings I made in the Arctic, will be beamed into space from by ESA. In art as in science, in the process of following an enquiry, many other enquiries emerge – my forthcoming exhibition in Paris is certainly a point of resolution of some of these, but many other stories have opened up, and the interconnectedness of the parts has been astonishing. I am realising the power of expression that visual art can bring in unleashing the potential infinity encapsulated in a given story. Crystalline, curated by Helen Carey, will open at the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, on 26 January 2017 and will travel to the European Space Agency in April 2017. You can also hear Siobhan talking about her work in this broadcast for RTE Lyric FM and see previous work on her website Collaborative Partners: European Space Agency; The Millennium Seed Bank; Enbio; Born Na Mona; UCD Parity Studios, University College Dublin. Photographs of artworks taken by Vincent Hoban.


Campbell C.,Trinity College Dublin | Kelly D.L.,Trinity College Dublin | Smyth N.,National Botanic Gardens | Lockhart N.,Heritage and the Gaeltacht | Holyoak D.T.,Quinta da Cachopa
Journal of Bryology | Year: 2016

Ditrichum cornubicum is a rare and threatened acrocarpous moss found on copper-rich mine waste, characteristic of the EU protected habitat ‘Calaminarian grassland of the Violetalia calaminariae’. The species was once thought to be a British endemic, being known from two former copper/tin mine sites in Cornwall, until the discovery of a population in 2006 at Allihies Mountain Mine, Co. Cork, Ireland, a former copper mine. In light of this discovery, two theories of possible introduction from Britain to Ireland were put forward: (1) an introduction from the 1800s and (2) a more recent introduction (2000s). Only male plants of the species are known, and reproduction and dispersal are therefore solely through asexual propagules and fragmentation. In order to address the conservation questions of the origin of the Irish population and to determine whether diversity exists within this rare species, genetic fingerprinting (amplified fragment length polymorphism) was carried out on the three known global populations. Percent polymorphism was found to be 7.29% and Nei's total gene diversity (HT) was 0.0356. AMOVA revealed that, of the small amount of variation found, the majority was among the three populations (98%). The presence of five private alleles in the Allihies population suggests a longer period of isolation than would fit either theory of introduction. Cluster analyses reveal that the Allihies population is more genetically distinct than the two British populations are to each other, thus heightening the conservation priority for this population. © British Bryological Society 2016


Cheek M.,Herbarium | Jebb M.,National Botanic Gardens
Nordic Journal of Botany | Year: 2013

In the course of studies to typify what has been regarded as the most widespread and common of the endemic Philippines species of Nepenthes, N. alata Blanco, we were able to review the morphological variation in what we previously regarded as a polymorphic species. This led us to redelimit that species in a narrower sense, to resurrect N. graciliflora Elmer, and to recognise N. negros sp. nov., here assessed as 'Critically Endangered' (CR) using the IUCN standard. The Nepenthes alata group is characterised and a key to its species is provided. © Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 2013.


Jebb M.,National Botanic Gardens | Prance G.T.,Royal Botanic Gardens
Blumea: Journal of Plant Taxonomy and Plant Geography | Year: 2011

Five new species of Barringtonia from Papua New Guinea are described and discussed: B. lumina, B. monticola, B. pinnifolia, B. serenae and B. tagala. All five species belong to section Barringtonia with closed flower buds. Notes are also provided for the seven monocaulous pachycaul species of Barringtonia in New Guinea. © 2011 Nationaal Herbarium Nederland.


Cheek M.,Royal Botanic Gardens | Jebb M.,National Botanic Gardens
Blumea: Journal of Plant Taxonomy and Plant Geography | Year: 2014

Three new species in the Nepenthes alata group from the Philippines, Nepenthes armin, N. tboli and N. zygon, are described and assessed as threatened using the IUCN 2012 standard. The group is expanded by the inclusion of N. truncata and N. robcantleyi, previously included in the N. regiae group. A key to the nineteen species of the group is presented. © 2014 Naturalis Biodiversity Center.


Diskin E.,Trinity College Dublin | Proctor H.,Trinity College Dublin | Jebb M.,National Botanic Gardens | Sparks T.,University of Life Sciences in Poznań | And 2 more authors.
International Journal of Biometeorology | Year: 2012

To date, phenological research has provided evidence that climate warming is impacting both animals and plants, evidenced by the altered timing of phenophases. Much of the evidence supporting these findings has been provided by analysis of historic records and present-day fieldwork; herbaria have been identified recently as an alternative source of phenological data. Here, we used Rubus specimens to evaluate herbaria as potential sources of phenological data for use in climate change research and to develop the methodology for using herbaria specimens in phenological studies. Data relevant to phenology (collection date) were recorded from the information cards of over 600 herbarium specimens at Ireland's National Herbarium in Dublin. Each specimen was assigned a score (0-5) corresponding to its phenophase. Temperature data for the study period (1852 - 2007) were obtained from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU); relationships between temperature and the dates of first flower, full flower, first fruit and full fruit were assessed using weighted linear regression. Of the five species of Rubus examined in this study, specimens of only one (R. fruticosus) were sufficiently abundant to yield statistically significant relationships with temperature. The results revealed a trend towards earlier dates of first flower, full flower and first fruit phenophases with increasing temperature. Through its multi-phenophase approach, this research serves to extend the most recent work-which validated the use of herbaria through use of a single phenophase-to confirm herbarium-based research as a robust methodology for use in future phenological studies. © 2012 ISB.


Cheek M.,Herbarium Royal Botanic Gardens | Jebb M.,National Botanic Gardens
Willdenowia | Year: 2013

Nepenthes ramos Jebb & Cheek, sp. nov. is described and illustrated from Surigao Province, Mindanao, Philippines, and placed in the N. alata Blanco group. An updated key to the species of the group is provided. The new species is characterized by the subcylindric upper pitchers which are more or less equally wide at base and apex, only slightly and gradually constricted in the middle and lacking in fringed wings, and by the lower surface of the lid having a well-developed basal appendage almost lacking glands, the lid surface having dimorphic nectar glands, large perithecoid glands along the midline and much smaller non-perithecoid but bordered glands on the rest of the lid. The species is assessed as Critically Endangered using the IUCN 2001 standard. Logging and open-cast mining are thought to be threats to this species. © 2013 BGBM Berlin-Dahlem.


News Article | December 1, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

Pencil on antique paper. Collection of arctic pressings from the 1825 expedition. I discovered that the captain of the doomed HMS Terror was an Irishman with a keen interest in botany. Thanks to his interest, buried in the Antiquities Department of the National Botanic Gardens is a superb collection of Arctic pressings that have never been on public view. Matthew Jebb, the director, opened the collection to me to extract some 75 seeds from the pressings. These seeds are an important finding as they represent that moment just before the industrial revolution.

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