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BEN # 61

Adolf Ceska aceska at CUE.BC.CA
Sun Aug 8 00:41:21 EST 1993

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No. 61                            August 7, 1993

Address: aceska at cue.bc.ca         Victoria, B.C.

From: Janine Adams
      kama at mobot.mobot.org & biodiv-l at bdt.ftpt.br

ST.  LOUIS - Dr. Alwyn Gentry, the world's leading expert on the
plants of Latin America, was killed August 3 in a plane crash in
Ecuador. Three other people,  including  American  ornithologist
Ted  Parker,  were  killed  in the crash in the Pacific lowlands
coast of Ecuador. Three biologists survived the crash.

The scientific group was doing an aerial survey of  the  coastal
area  of  Ecuador,  350 miles southwest of Quito, when the crash
occurred. They were on a reconnaissance  trip  for  Conservation
International's Rapid Assessment Program (RAP).

Gentry  began  working at the Missouri Botanical Garden in 1971.
He was revered for his botanical knowledge of South America  and
was  recognized  as one of the world's leading field biologists.
He made  more  than  70,000  botanical  collections  during  his
lifetime.  His understanding of woody tropical plants, a subject
about which he had recently published a major volume, was unsur-

"We feel Al's loss very deeply," said Dr. Peter H. Raven, direc-
tor of the Missouri Botanical Garden. "He was undoubtedly one of
the most knowledgeable people in the  world  about  the  complex
flora  of  Latin  America.  With  the  passing of Al Gentry, the
botanical community, and indeed the world, has lost  an  invalu-
able resource. And the Garden has lost a valued, long-time staff

Gentry  is  survived  by  his wife, Rosa Ortiz de Gentry; a son,
Darrell Gentry; two daughters,  Diane  Gentry  and  Maria  Liana
Gentry; two sisters and his mother.

From: grapevine (various unofficial sources)

The  Museum  of  Nature  lay-offs  have happened and they can be
described as an "intellectual massacre". Eight  scientists  will
lose  their jobs: five zoologists and three botanists are going.
The botanists are Dr. Robert Ireland, one of Canada's  few  moss
experts;  Dr.  Erich  Haber, who is an expert on Pyrola and rare
and endangered plants; and Dr. K.A. Pirozynski, a palaeobotanist
who has unique knowledge of fossil  fungi.  There  is  a  rumour
about yet another layoff notice that could not be delivered to a
botanist  who  is  on a field trip. Among the zoologists was Dr.
Francis R. Cook, editor of The Canadian Field-Naturalist.

We do not know the duties of the 10 technicians  who  are  being
laid  off,  but  since he says there is no museum in Canada that
has sufficient technical staff to maintain its  biological  col-
lections properly, the cuts must be serious.

Maintenance  of  the  Museum of Nature collections and access to
them are also problems. They hold the Canadian moss  collection,
for  example,  but will now not have anyone on staff with exper-
tise in that field. They  have  apparently  suggested  that  the
Ottawa  collections could be sent out to provincial museums, but
as we know that is impossible in British  Columbia  because  the
Royal  B.C. Museum is also short-staffed and uncertain about its
future role.

In many museums "the exhibition people have taken over" (Science
258, 16 Oct 1992 p. 396). The museum directors seem to  want  to
be  in the entertainment business and have forgotten why museums
were established and have lasted 400 years.


"Botany is at a low ebb in Canada, at a lower ebb than  in  most
civilized or half civilized countries on the face of the earth."
George Lawson 1860

From: Jane Bock <BOCK_J at CUBLDR.Colorado.EDU>

One  thing  bothered  me about the fire description you sent. My
colleague, Yan Linhart,  and  I  are  very  concerned  with  two
aspects  of restoration of vegetation.My concerns are that using
exotic plants, even if sterile, slows plant success-  ion  as  a
natural  process  because  the natives must find some way to re-
place the exotics. Linhart is always worried about  revegetation
discouraging maintenance of the naturally occurring gene pool. I
was very impressed with your weed disposal efforts up there from
volunteers.  What if a volunteer party were organized to collect
seeds from indigenous species that were on the  land  pre-burned
from the closest seed sources. This is very labor intensive, but
if  done  by  volunteers,  this  helps. We are trying to get the
National Park Service  here  to  stop  revegetating  lands  from
central  nursery  stock.  It  is  not sufficient to use the same
species in our opinion. The best job is using stock from nearby.
I have lots more to say about this topic if it interests you.

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