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Neldner V.J.,Queensland Herbarium
Ecological Management and Restoration | Year: 2017

The establishment success of woody plant species at 56 revegetation sites, four to 26 years old, across the Meandu open-cut coal mine in south-east Queensland was assessed. The revegetation process involved returning stockpiled topsoil, deep ripping and mechanical sowing of a mix of native seeds. Blakes Wattle (Acacia blakei) and less often Black Wattle (A. leiocalyx), both primarily derived from respread topsoil seed, dominate the vegetation canopy at 59% and 20% of revegetation sites, respectively. The additional sowing of seeds of many tree and shrub species within the sites has had limited success with most failing to persist or grow well. Revegetation management, for example selective thinning of acacias (Acacia spp.) saplings within the first 5 years is recommended to release the competition pressure on the poorly performing tree species. This will also allow opportunities for other less well represented shrub and herb species to persist. This study has shown that a range of tree and shrub species, including Eucalyptus spp., are performing poorly under the current revegetation regime, suggesting adjustments to revegetation species selection and/or methodologies are needed. The natural colonization of woody native species within the sites from nearby remnant vegetation is shown to be limited to only four species, and therefore is unlikely to significantly supplement the species diversity of the revegetation. © 2017 State of Queensland


This week’s news that Australian customs officers incinerated irreplaceable plant specimens has shocked botanists around the world, and left many concerned about possible impacts on international research exchanges. Some have put a freeze on sending samples to Australia until they are assured that their packages won’t meet a similar fate, and others are discussing broader ways of assuring safe passage of priceless specimens. "This story is likely to have a major chilling effect on the loan system between herbaria across national boundaries," says Austin Mast, president of the Society of Herbarium Curators and director of the herbarium at Florida State University in Tallahassee. "Without the free sharing of specimens, the pace of plant diversity research slows." As a result of the customs debacle, curators in New Zealand put a stay on shipping samples to Australia. So has the New York Botanical Garden in New York City, which holds the second largest collection of preserved plants in the world. "We, and many other herbaria, will not send specimens to Australia until we are sure this situation will not be repeated," says herbarium Director Barbara Thiers. Herbaria are guardians of plant biodiversity data. Around the world, about 3000 institutions keep a total of 350 million plants specimens that have been pressed, dried, and stored in cabinets. Some are hundreds of years old; others are rare examples of extinct species. Particularly valuable are so-called type specimens, used to describe species for the first time. Botanists consult these when they are identifying new species or revising taxonomy. Many herbaria have digitized images of their specimens, allowing initial research to be conducted remotely. But some details must be examined first-hand. To do that, biologists often request specimens through a kind of interlibrary loan. "The system works well when the risk of damage or destruction of loaned specimens is perceived to be very low," Mast says. But sometimes things go awry. Earlier this week, many botanists learned about the destruction of six type specimens of daisies—some collected during a French expedition to Australia from 1791 to 1793—which the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) in Paris had mailed along with 99 other specimens to the Queensland Herbarium in Brisbane, Australia. After the package arrived in Brisbane in early January, the specimens were held up at customs because the paperwork was incomplete. Biosecurity officers asked the Queensland Herbarium for a list of the specimens and how they were preserved, but the herbarium sent its responses to the wrong email address, delaying the response by many weeks. In March, the officers requested clarification, but then incinerated the samples. "It's like taking a painting from the Louvre and burning it," says James Solomon, herbarium curator at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. According to Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, which enforces biosecurity rules, part of the problem was that the samples had a declared value of $2—and its agents routinely destroy low-value items that have been kept longer than 30 days. Michel Guiraud, director of collections at NMNH, says his museum's policy is to put minimal values on shipments. "If it is irreplaceable, there is no way to put an insurance value on it," he says. Guiraud says the package was sent with the usual documentation and he's trying to find out what went wrong. Concerned about the possibility of other scientific samples being destroyed, the museum is considering stopping loans from all of its collections to Australia. Australia’s agriculture department admitted in a statement that it erred in prematurely destroying the specimens, but didn't take sole responsibility for the snafu. "This is a deeply regrettable occurrence, but it does highlight the importance of the shared responsibility of Australia’s biosecurity system, and the need for adherence to import conditions." The department has reviewed its procedures for handling delayed items and is considering how package labels could highlight the “intrinsic value” of scientific specimens. On Monday, officials met with representatives from a consortium of Australasian herbaria to help them understand and comply with importation rules. "At this stage it appears we are resolving the matter very positively," says botanist Michelle Waycott of the University of Adelaide in Australia and the Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria. A second incident came to light after botanists at the Allan Herbarium in Lincoln, New Zealand, heard last month about the destruction of the French specimens. They inquired about six lichen samples, including a type specimen of Buellia macularis, that they had shipped to the Australian National Herbarium in Canberra last year. It turned out the specimens had been destroyed in October 2016 by biosecurity officers in Sydney, Australia. The department is investigating what happened in this case. New Zealand herbaria have suspended loans to Australia while they wait for written guarantees that their specimens will be safe. “We are disappointed we have lost an important part of our collection but we’re looking forward to further international collaboration,” said Ilse Breitwieser, director of the Allan Herbarium, in a statement this week. Curators elsewhere are reviewing how they ship samples internationally. "We will rethink our policy of lending specimens to countries that would pose a risk for loss of collections," says Christine Niezgoda, collections manager of flowering plants at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois, who, like others, was surprised to learn that specimens would be destroyed rather than returned. The Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, which is following the situation in Australia, hopes to increase communication among curators about shipping regulations and border inspection procedures. A long-standing frustration for many is that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), like its counterpart in Australia, does not have a separate category for low-risk scientific specimens. "The way that the U.S. and Australian governments are treating these shipments is basically going to bring taxonomic work to a halt," says Ellen Dean, curator of the Center for Plant Diversity at the University of California, Davis. "We are thinking of no longer loaning our specimens to other countries, because we are uncertain that APHIS will allow our own specimens back into this country." Whatever the destination, veterans emphasize that every detail matters, even the most obvious. "Nothing derails a shipment faster than a wrong address," says Thiers, who maintains a public database of herbaria addresses and contact information. "Sometimes they don't get returned for years, and unless you take extraordinary measures, you won't get them back." (With the volume of specimens that get mailed from the New York Botanic Garden—up to 30,000 a year—Thiers can't afford tracked shipments and uses cheaper library rate shipping.) Even the most diligent curators confess to late-night worries. "Any time you let something go out the door, there's a risk," says Solomon, who is continuing to send specimens to Australia. "The benefit from making the material available far outweighs the risk." Says Niezgoda: "Collections are meant to be used to promote scientific inquiry and this should not change."


News Article | May 9, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

SYDNEY (AP) — Australian quarantine officials have acknowledged that they reacted a bit too hastily when they destroyed a rare, centuries-old collection of plants from France due to paperwork problems. The Museum of Natural History in Paris sent the flowering plant specimens to a research center in Australia's Queensland state. When the plants arrived in Australia in January, officials determined that the accompanying paperwork failed to comply with the country's notoriously strict quarantine rules. Quarantine authorities then tried to get proper documentation from the Queensland Herbarium, but before they could, biosecurity officers destroyed the plants, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources said in a statement Tuesday. Michelle Waycott, who heads the Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that the specimens dated back to the mid-1800s and were irreplaceable. Australia has some of the world's toughest quarantine regulations in a bid to keep pests and diseases from infiltrating its isolated borders and destroying the country's unique wildlife. The strict quarantine policies captured global attention in 2015, when Johnny Depp and his then-wife, Amber Heard, were accused of illegally bringing their pet Yorkshire Terriers into Australia, where Depp was working on a movie. According to the agriculture department, the plants arrived in early January with a declared value of 2 Australian dollars ($1.50) and no indication of their significance. The attached documents failed to include information such as what the specimens were and whether they were preserved, so the department held onto the package while officials worked to get those details. The Queensland Herbarium then called the department saying it would provide the additional documentation, but didn't do so until March 3. Those documents were still deemed insufficient, so the department said it requested more information. By the end of March, no further documents had arrived and the plants were thus destroyed, the department said. The agriculture department said it hung onto the plant specimens for 46 days longer than what is normally required while officials worked to sort out the documentation. But the agency conceded that destroying the plants was "premature," given that officials and the herbarium were still working to sort out the issue. Officials at the Queensland Herbarium declined to comment. The department said it had conducted a review and would take steps to avoid such an incident from happening again.


News Article | May 9, 2017
Site: hosted2.ap.org

(AP) — Australian quarantine officials have acknowledged that they reacted a bit too hastily when they destroyed a rare, centuries-old collection of plants from France due to paperwork problems. The Museum of Natural History in Paris sent the flowering plant specimens to a research center in Australia's Queensland state. When the plants arrived in Australia in January, officials determined that the accompanying paperwork failed to comply with the country's notoriously strict quarantine rules. Quarantine authorities then tried to get proper documentation from the Queensland Herbarium, but before they could, biosecurity officers destroyed the plants, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources said in a statement Tuesday. Michelle Waycott, who heads the Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that the specimens dated back to the mid-1800s and were irreplaceable. Australia has some of the world's toughest quarantine regulations in a bid to keep pests and diseases from infiltrating its isolated borders and destroying the country's unique wildlife. The strict quarantine policies captured global attention in 2015, when Johnny Depp and his then-wife, Amber Heard, were accused of illegally bringing their pet Yorkshire Terriers into Australia, where Depp was working on a movie. According to the agriculture department, the plants arrived in early January with a declared value of 2 Australian dollars ($1.50) and no indication of their significance. The attached documents failed to include information such as what the specimens were and whether they were preserved, so the department held onto the package while officials worked to get those details. The Queensland Herbarium then called the department saying it would provide the additional documentation, but didn't do so until March 3. Those documents were still deemed insufficient, so the department said it requested more information. By the end of March, no further documents had arrived and the plants were thus destroyed, the department said. The agriculture department said it hung onto the plant specimens for 46 days longer than what is normally required while officials worked to sort out the documentation. But the agency conceded that destroying the plants was "premature," given that officials and the herbarium were still working to sort out the issue. Officials at the Queensland Herbarium declined to comment. The department said it had conducted a review and would take steps to avoid such an incident from happening again.


Fun fact: Australia's custom officials are known for procedures teetering on the absurdly overzealous, thanks to the continent's unique natural environment. But those procedures are under investigation, after officials destroyed "irreplaceable" rare flowering plants sent from France. "They were the first type specimens collected of a species," Michelle Waycott, chair at the Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, told ABC News. "That would be the equivalent of material collected in the Flinders expedition, going and then destroying those. So literally irreplaceable collections and of high historic and scientific value." D'oh! These border officials have absolutely zero chill. SEE ALSO: This company is creating a fusion reactor, which is how stars produce energy The plant samples from the Museum of Natural History in Paris dated back to the mid-1800s. It was intended for the Queensland Herbarium, but was destroyed due to paperwork issues in March. In a statement via email, the Department of Agriculture acknowledged "the intrinsic value of the specimens," and conceded that its destruction was "premature." Once the plants were detained, the Queensland Herbarium sent correspondence to an incorrect email address. Ugh. When their information was eventually received, it was not sufficient, and the plants were destroyed in line with policy. RIP, rare flowering plants. A "comprehensive review of this incident" will be undertaken by the department to prevent a similar situation from occurring again. "This is a deeply regrettable occurrence, but it does highlight the importance of the shared responsibility of Australia's biosecurity system, and the need for adherence to import conditions," according to the statement. In a similar incident, New Zealand's Landcare Research Allan Herbarium loaned lichen samples collected in the 1930s to the Australian National Herbarium last year. The loan was to see if lichen found in both countries were similar, but the sample was destroyed by border officials in Sydney. The incident prompted the Allan Herbarium from stopping further samples being sent to Australia until assurances of its safe arrival are made in writing. The department said it was "unaware of this incident," however it is "investigating it as a matter of priority."


Pole M.,Queensland Herbarium
Alcheringa | Year: 2010

This paper reports the discovery of three of the most iconic New Caledonian endemic genera, Amphorogyne, Paracryphia and Phelline, as dispersed leaf cuticle fossils in the early Miocene of New Zealand. New Caledonia's endemic angiosperm families have given it a reputation as one of the most interesting botanical regions in the world, but unfortunately it has no known pre-Pleistocene Cenozoic plant fossil record. A once more widespread distribution of its key plants in the context of a cooling and drying Neogene world suggests the current vegetation of New Caledonia is the result of contraction, or even a migration, from more southerly landmasses. Thus, New Zealand may have been a source of at least some of New Caledonia's plants. © 2010 Association of Australasian Palaeontologists.


Pole M.,Queensland Herbarium
Palaeontologia Electronica | Year: 2014

Miocene New Zealand was a small, highly oceanic landmass which makes it ideal for recording terrestrial climate, free of the complications of a continental setting. Fortunately, it has a good Miocene fossil record, both marine and terrestrial. This paper reviews past conclusions about Miocene climate then attempts to derive some key climate indices for the period using a variety of plant fossil proxies. The paper looks at three slices of Miocene time-a broad early to earliest middle Miocene time, a restricted period in the middle Miocene, and broader middle-late Miocene. The results suggest early to earliest middle Miocene Mean Annual Temperatures (MATs) reached at least 17-18°C, thus, about 6-7°C warmer than today (coastal areas of southern New Zealand today have a MAT of about 11°C). At times Miocene MAT may have reached 19-20°C. These figures support the cooler estimates of New Zealand Miocene climate that have been made previously by using palebotanical proxies, rather than those based on marine invertebrates. Based on plant fossils there is no evidence that New Zealand ever reached truly 'tropical' (i.e., megathermal) conditions (> 24-25°C). The climate in the middle Miocene is confounded by signs of precipitation and temperature change, and the rarity of leaf fossils. However, the data suggest both cooling and drying from the early Miocene. The presence of crocodiles yet the disappearance of palms, suggests a MAT that was at the lower end of existence for both of these groups, perhaps about 14°C. By the late Miocene, there is evidence for significant cooling, both from leaf size and a drop in plant diversity, which resulted in vegetation dominated in many places by Nothofagus. © Palaeontological Association July 2014.


Bean A.R.,Queensland Herbarium
Phytotaxa | Year: 2012

The taxonomy of Solanum echinatum and its allies is revised. Seven species are enumerated, all endemic to tropical Australia, including four new species: S. fecundum sp. nov., S. lapidosum sp. nov., S. medicagineum sp. nov., and S. rhaphiotes sp. nov. Solanum longissimum is reduced to synonymy, and S. wilkinsii is reinstated. Illustrations are provided for all species. The distributions of all species are mapped, and an identification key is included. © 2012 Magnolia Press.


Holland A.E.,Queensland Herbarium
Telopea | Year: 2015

Goodenia effusa is described as new. It is an annual herb from north Queensland with morphological affinity to G. virgata, G. armitiana and G. triodiophila. A diagnostic table of morphological differences is provided, along with illustrations and a distribution map of this new species. © 2015 Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust.


Three features of leaf physiognomy: craspedodromous venation, compound teeth and a lobed leaf outline, figure prominently in the Late Cretaceous vegetation of southern New Zealand. These make it distinctly different from typical extant, predominantly evergreen forests and some deciduous vegetation. The physiognomy of the Late Cretaceous vegetation at the assemblage level shows more similarity with predominantly deciduous forests of the Northern Hemisphere, in terms of the proportions of these characters in the flora. At the taxon level, combinations of characters found in fossils are very similar to and in some cases restricted to, widespread extant Northern Hemisphere deciduous taxa, but also to rarer components of evergreen forests. It may not be possible to categorically determine whether any one fossil was deciduous. The distinctly different assemblage-level foliar physiognomy implies a distinctly different "lifestyle" for the New Zealand forests that bordered Gondwana in the Late Cretaceous. It is highly likely that this physiognomy reflects an important deciduous component. This is unexpected as for at least part of this time New Zealand was apparently below (north of) the Polar Circle with a temperate and everwet climate. © 2014 International Association for Gondwana Research.

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