TROPINET, Vol. 11, No. 2, June 2000

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Review of Flora da Reserva Ducke

by Ribero, J.E., et. al.

by Robin B. Foster, Environmental & Conservation Programs, Botany Department, The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60605-2496,

This extraordinary book is the first well-illustrated botanical guide to any part of the Amazon Basin and the first guide to a species-rich flora using thousands of digitized color images of live plants. Though only pertaining directly to a small piece of forest, it has a much wider significance and usefulness.

The Reserva Ducke is a 10 x 10 km square piece of terra-firma forest adjacent to Manaus, the rapidly expanding city in the heart of the Amazon at the confluence of the Río Negro with the Río Amazonas. For the students and researchers working in the central Amazon this is the most accessible intact forest, and probably the most studied.

The Flora da Reserva Ducke, bargain priced at $50, is a heavy 800 glossy-page paperback, 4 cm thick, with a strong plastic cover. A typical page has more than 20 color images. It is written in Portuguese but Spanish speakers will not have much trouble using it. Thus it is accessible to almost anyone doing research in Amazonia. It is useful far beyond the immediate Manaus area since certainly the majority of species have distributions at least a thousand km beyond Manaus (though in different directions and with great differences in population size).

It is really a revolution to have images of live plants of almost every species in a local flora (2,200 vascular species), and even more so for a tropical site. The close-ups of leaf characters are often stunning in revealing characters not included in most floras. Admittedly, only some of the species have images of flowers or fruits, these in a sampler at the beginning of each family, while the great majority are represented by only leaves and stems. Since what is most frequently observable in the field are the leaves and stem, especially in a flora that is dominated by tree species, most ecologists will be pleased by this bias but plant systematists will not. It can be hoped that images of reproductive structures for all of the species can be gradually accumulated and added in some future revamping of the book.

The first 95 pages of the manual has a wonderful assortment of useful introductory information, including a densely illustrated glossary of vegetative characters, the best I have ever seen for a tropical flora. It even includes color illustrations of such unusual diagnostic characters as cut stems oozing latex, leaf domatia, glands, and galls. There is great inventiveness in the development and arrangement of different kinds of color-coded keys, both within the families, and for the flora as a whole using color bars along the margins of the pages.

There are plenty of things to criticize, but given how many new approaches are developed here the producers of this book can be forgiven for some failed attempts. A description in the introductory section of how the images and guide were made would have been useful for those who want to follow in their footsteps.

Many of the illustrations are too small, too dark or the digital resolution not high enough to be useful. The consistency of layout often takes precedence over a focus on important characters and creates a mind-numbing similarity of species appearance. The leaf surface is invariably shown even when it has almost nothing to distinguish it from others of the genus, and the bark is invariably shown even though more often than not it only demonstrates the variety of crustose lichens in the forest. The juxtaposition of leaf surface close-ups next to images of the bark and slash is confusing. The leaf close-ups are given more prominence than whole leaf appearance or leaf arrangement, even though it is the latter two that first catch the eye in the field.

The taxonomic arrangement is unfortunate for a guide that is largely using vegetative characters to distinguish plants. Although there is no perfect one-dimensional arrangement, vegetative form varies so much within families and even more so within orders that it hardly seems justified to keep them together in Cronquistian order. The leaves of Bombacaceae, Sterculiaceae, Elaeocarpaceae (as they are traditionally defined in this book) are as often confused with Euphorbiace, Flacourtiaceae, or genera in other families as they are with each other. A simpler solution for the user would be just to have them alphabetical by family within the Monocots and Dicots. Clear indices at the back and a color-coded guide putting families into 8 subclasses alleviates some of the burden of finding a family.

To some extent this book is dangerous. Nearly all dicot species have an image of the stem with a big slash showing the color of the inner bark and wood. If everyone who uses this book goes out and whacks open every woody plant they want identified they are likely to cause considerable long-term damage to the trees from infection by insects and fungi -- certainly not desirable on any permanent plots.

Despite these drawbacks, the Brazilian and British sponsors are to be congratulated for supporting this project and seeing it through. One almost feels cheated that such a terrific book is designed only for this local flora. Since the images are already digitized, they could easily be used as the starting point for other local guides in the region, or for a guide to plant genera for a much wider region -- sort of a color version of Gentry's guide to the genera of NW South America. The authors and producers of this volume have started something that should quickly accelerate knowledge of the plant resources of the Amazon region -- and meanwhile help keep viable the threatened Ducke Reserve.

This book is available in Europe from Kew Gardens, London for 25 pounds; in the US from for 50 US$, and in Brazil through SAPECA - Sociedade para Pesquisas e Conservação de Amazônia; Projeto Flora da Reserva Ducke for 50 R$ (+postage and packing)

In Memorium

Carlos Vazquez-Yanes, Mexican Ecologist and Population Biologist

Dr. Carlos Vázquez-Yanes died the morning of November 11, 1999 in Mexico City. The family Vázquez Yanes is originally from Spain. Carlos was born in Venezuela, but his family moved to Mexico City, as did many other emigrants from Spain in the 40's. Carlos become a Mexican citizen and obtained his bachelor's, Master and Ph.D. degrees at UNAM in Mexico City. In 1972 he published (with A. Gomez-Pompa (Riverside, CA) and S. Guevara) a paper in Science stressing the non-renewable nature of tropical rain forests, raising awareness that deforestation in Mexico and other tropical regions was occurring at a rapid rate. Carlos is well known among tropical ecologists, specifically for his studies on seed germination, the areas in which he focussed most of his research. Recently, he worked diligently to rescue many disturbed areas of Mexico, using his extensive knowledge of the biology of tree seeds and seedlings. Carlos was an ardent advocate for restoration of Mexico's disturbed areas, because it is time, he thought, to put biological knowledge to work for a very worth cause: rescuing nature for the future. --Juan Nunez-Farfan, University of Connecticut,

Distinguished Mexican tropical ecologist from the Institute of Ecology at the National University of Mexico (UNAM), whose pioneer contributions in ecological physiology of seed germination are regarded as pivotal to the understanding of the regeneration process of tropical rainforests. The work of Carlos Vázquez and his students at Los Tuxtlas Biological Station of the University of Mexico opened a new approach to do experimental field ecology in the tropics. He co-authored (with Sergio Guevara and me) a widely cited paper "The Tropical Rain Forest: A Non-Renewable Resource" published in Science in 1972 (177:762-765) concerning the possible impact of large-scale deforestation to the loss of tree species with recalcitrant seeds and its potential for mass extinction of tropical species. He was the recipient of prizes from the Mexican Academy of Sciences, the Botanical Society of Mexico and from UNAM (his alma mater). -- A. Gomez-Pompa, University of California, Riverside,

Warren "Herb" Wagner, Pteridologist, Tropical Botanist, Educator

What to say about Herb Wagner? –Eminent scientist; expert on butterflies, minerals, and plants; plant systematist; father of the "Wagner tree" method of cladistic analysis; authority on Botrychium, Dryopteris, Asplenium; more knowledgeable about more aspects of ferns than most of us can imagine. Herb’s enormous contributions to science and especially to systematic botany and the biology of pteridophytes will remain a living legacy. But equally important was his inspirational leadership. Who of us hasn’t come away from one of Herb’s lectures or field trips with renewed energy and a burning desire to get back to our own studies? He made learning fun. He legitimized immersing oneself in the study of natural history. From their "Wagner experience" hundreds of students, professionals and amateurs became hooked on science. These individuals are also a lasting legacy to Herb’s enthusiasm for science and especially for his beloved ferns.

Born in 1920 and raised in Washington D.C., Herb’s interest in natural history and especially in ferns was fostered by professionals at the Smithsonian and, later, by E. T. Wherry at the University of Pennsylvania. His research with tropical ferns began after graduation in 1942 when he was assigned by the U.S. Navy to the Pacific Fleet. On leaves in the Pacific islands he studied and later published the Pteridophyte Flora of Guam and the pteridophytes (and the butterflies) of the Admiralty Islands. He also began a life-long study of the ferns of the Hawaiian Islands which led in 1950 to his Ph.D. dissertation at the University of California, Berkeley and, subsequently, to a series of papers on Hawaiian pteridophytes which will culminate in a book on Hawaiian Ferns co-authored by Florence Wagner, Herb’s partner in marriage and colleague in research for 52 years.

Herb was also active in research and teaching on tropical pteridophytes of the Americas, consulting and teaching for OTS and the Fairchild Tropical Garden. In a 1967 OTS course on Pteridophytes of Costa Rica, I and nine graduate student colleagues had the great fortune of experiencing two weeks of "Wagner" field trips and lectures. Although I was his student, I hadn’t appreciated until then his truly comprehensive knowledge of ferns. It seemed that no matter what species came under discussion, he would recite pages of information on its morphology, habitat, and systematic relations–without resorting to notes! Our routine was to sort our daily collections into family groups and place these in systematic order on tables around the room, at which time he would work his way around the tables commenting on what we had found. One day someone spotted a tiny pendant epiphytic species of pepper (Piper) which looked a great deal like a clubmoss (Lycopodium). We decided to collect it and place it in the table space reserved for Lycopodiaceae, just to get Herb’s response. As expected, his reaction was an exuberant "OH NO! WHAT’S THIS?". After a bit more raving, we students smugly suggested that maybe it wasn’t a Lycopodium, perhaps not even a pteridophyte. After a pause to take in what we were saying, his reply was "YOU’RE WRONG! IT IS A LYCOPODIUM. IT’S A NEW SPECIES!" Of course he was right.

Herb actively pursued his research and teaching until just weeks before his death on January 8, 2000 at the age of 79. Although officially retired, he continued to teach his courses in woody plants and plant systematics to packed classrooms. Teaching was as much a joy to Herb as it was to his classes. He maintained a rigorous schedule of invited (17 in 1999) as well as meetings and symposia. Last summer he and Florence conducted field work in Alaska and in southwestern Canada. From both places he returned, of course, with new species of Botrychium.

Each of us will retain our own special picture of Herb Wagner. Mine is one I didn’t experience personally, but was related to me by Welby Smith, botanist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. None could be more appropriate. Last summer, Herb and Florence visited an iron mine tailings site where several species of moonworts had been recently found. The group wandered from plant to plant until they ended up quite some distance from their vehicles. To save Herb the long walk back, someone flagged down one of the "four-wheelers" recreating in the area, who agreed to give Herb a ride back to the cars. When the rest of the group arrived on foot, they found the four-wheelers all parked, their drivers sitting around Herb taking notes on Botrychium. More than likely one of those folks will discover a new site for Botrychium, one will become a botanist, and all will forever have their respect for science changed by the wonderful man they met "that day on the mine tailings." --Donald R. Farrar, Iowa State University, Reprinted, with modification, from the Fiddlehead Forum (27:2) Newsletter of the American Fern Society, with permission of the editor.

Field Station Profile:

The Chapala Ecology Station (CES), México?

On the shore of México's largest natural Lake (Lago de Chapala), at the foot of the mountain range making up the southwestern boundary of the Mesa Central, the Chapala Ecology Station occupies a region where both human-impacted and unimpacted ecosystems abound. This makes it ideal for ecological/environmental instruction. Ecosystems easily reached from the station include montane coniferous forest, desert scrubland, tropical rainforest, large and small lakes, salt lakes, reservoirs, rivers, marshes, and thermal springs. Within a half-day drive, one can visit the alpine forests of the Nevado de Colima (>14,000 ft), the smoking Volcán de Colima, the Pacific Ocean at Barra de Navidad, and Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara's marine science/aquaculture laboratory. The city of Guadalajara is a one hour drive from the station.

The Chapala Ecology Station provides facilities and classes for students and researchers. During teaching programs students live in a hotel in the small village of Ajijic, where they are equipped with laboratories, a library and computer lab, and classrooms. Living quarters consist of large units with bedrooms, baths, kitchen, dining area, and living room. The Chapala Ecology Station accommodates researchers year round for short or long visits and has a permanent laboratory with limited terrestrial and aquatic field equipment. Research at the Chapala Ecology Station has focussed on the limnology of Lake Chapala and other water resources in México, mammalian ecology, and tropical botany.

Courses at CES are team taught by an American and Mexican professor, and each course enrolls approximately equal numbers of students from the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central and South America. All courses are bilingually taught. Outlines of each lecture, lab, and field trip are provided in English and Spanish, while the lecturer uses his/her native language with further translation as needed. Upcoming courses at CES include Field Ecology and Conservation and Aquatic Biology. 7 July - 9 August 2000. Information: Laura Davalos. Tel: (254) 710-2911. Email: WWW: .


Meetings and Events (Items marked (*) are new this issue)


*Animal Behavior Society Annual Meeting. Atlanta, Georgia, 5-9 August. Co-hosted by Morehouse College and ZooAtlanta, this annual meeting will include talks, posters, symposia on ‘Dispersal Behavior’, and invited papers on ‘Comparisons between Primates and Cetaceans’. Plenary speakers include Chris Boake, Hugh Drummond, and Dee Boersma. Information: WWW:

MEDECOS 2000: Past, Present, and Future. Stellenbosch, South Africa. 11-15 September. The International Society of Mediterranean Ecologists will be holding its Ninth International Conference on Mediterranean-type ecosystems. WWW: .

3rd International Symposium Workshop on Frugivores and Seed Dispersal. 6-11 August, Hotel Fazenda Fonte Colina Verde, Såo Pedro, Såo Paulo, Brazil. Contact: Dr. Wesley Silva or Dr. Mauro Galetti. Email: . WWW: .

International Symposium on Modelling and Experimental Research on Genetic Processes in Tropical and Temperate Forests, 18-22 September in Cayenne, French Guyana. Sponsored by Silvolab Guyane, Cirad Forêt (Montpellier, France), Dendrogene project (EMBRAPA/DFID, Belém, Brazil), INRA (Paris, France), and ECOFOR (EU). Information and online registration is available at: WWW:

Meeting on Mangrove Macrobenthos: Biology, Ecology and Exploitation. Mombasa (Kenya), 7- 11 September. This meeting, convened by a group of seven institutions from Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and South Africa, will examine the macrofauna of mangroves worldwide. Some financial support for DC scientists may still be available. Applications can be made to Prof. Marco Vannini, director of the Museum of Zoology "La Specola" of the University of Florence, via Romana 17 - 50125 Firenze, Italy. Tel: +39 55 2288251/9; Fax: +39 55 225325; Email: More information about the conference is available at: WWW:


*Ecology of Insular Biotas: The Invasive Species Specialist Group International Conference. Wellington, New Zealand, 12-16 February. The Conference will focus on ecological patterns and processes of particular importance to isolated biotas, including true islands, natural habitat islands, and artificial habitat islands (reserves). Examples of suitable topics for papers include: dispersal and gene flow within and among isolated populations; ecology of small populations; ecological consequences of disharmonic floras and faunas; the relevance of island biogeography principles in conservation; islands as model ecosystems; comparative ecology of true islands vs. habitat islands. WWW: . Conference Directors: Dr. Christa Mulder, Dr. Don Drake, and Dr. Charles Daugherty, School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, P.O. Box 600, Wellington, New Zealand. Fax: 64-4-463-5331. Email: . Scientific program inquiries only. All other inquiries: Mr. Dick Veitch, Conference Manager, 48 Manse Rd. Papakura, New Zealand. Fax: 64-9-298-5775. Email: .

Association for Tropical Biology, 2001 Annual Meeting, in Bangalore, India, July 15-18 July.Bangalore is the capital of Karnataka, a state in southern India, and is host to several scientific and research institutes. The meeting is sponsored by the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment. Co-sponsors include the International Union for the Study of Social Insects- Bangalore Chapter, the Indian Academy of Sciences, and the Indian National Science Academy. The theme of the meeting will be Tropical Ecosystems: Structure, Diversity and Human Welfare.


Research Opportunities, Grants, and Student Support

Research opportunity in Peru: The Asociación Cracidae and Barbara D'Achille Captive Breeding Facility seek volunteers, graduate students, veterinary students and senior researchers interested in studying the ecology, reproduction, genetics, behavior, pathology, physiology and conservation of wild or captive White-winged Guan (Penelope albipennis). The guan is a critically endangered species endemic to the dry forests of northern Peru. The facility houses 90 guans and is located near the species' native habitat. A pilot reintroduction project is scheduled to begin spring of next year and involvement by outside researchers is strongly encouraged. Comparative studies involving captive birds are possible as the facility also houses Mitu salvini, Mitu tuberosa, Psophia leucoptera, Psophia crepitans, Ortalis guttata, Penelope jacquacu, Aburria pipile, and others. Investigators will receive room, board, workspace and logistical support for $10 (US) per day. For more information please contact: LUCILA PAUTRAT, Jefa del Zoocriadero "Bárbara D’Achille", Torres Paz 708 - Chiclayo, Perú, Tel:(011 51 74) 22 — 4952; Email:

The Center for Conservation Research and Training (CCRT), University of Hawaii. The CCRT has been awarded an NSF Training Grant to provide Graduate Research Fellowships to students admitted into the Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology (EECB) Graduate Program at the University of Hawaii. In addition to a minimum stipend of approximately $14,000/annum, the Graduate Fellows who are awarded fellowships will be provided with a stipend and a small amount of funds that can be used to carry out their own research in completing their degree requirements. The Graduate Fellows will also be required to spend a minimum of 15 hours per week as partners and mentors to K-12 teachers and assist in teaching biology (from the perspective of evolutionary and conservation biology) to K-12 students. Information: Dr. Ken Kaneshiro, Director of CCRT. Tel: (808) 956-6739. Email: Dr. Sheila Conant, Chair of EECB. Tel: (808) 956-8241. Email: Or send email request to Rena Duhl for an information packet about the EECB Graduate Program: WWW:

Tropical Marine Laboratories. Tropinet is assembling a list of tropical marine facilities, where "tropical" is defined as: "between the tropics, within the limit of reef-building corals, and with minimum winter water-temperature of 20° C". Send contact information and a brief description of your facility to: Lyn Loveless, Editor, Tropinet, Department of Biology, College of Wooster, Wooster, OH 44691. Email: .


Field Ecology and Conservation, and Aquatic Biology. 7 July - 9 August 2000. Chapala Ecology Station, joint program between Baylor University and the Universidad Autnoma de Guadalajara, Mexico. Information: Laura Davalos. Tel: (254) 710-2911. Email: WWW:

Institute for Tropical Marine Ecology, Dominica, Lesser Antilles. The Institute for Tropical Marine Ecology (ITME) in Dominica is now operating on a year-round basis. ITME offers 3-month semester programs (Fall and Spring), 6-week summer courses in Marine Ecology, and serves as base for visiting researchers and student groups. For more details, see

Publications and Resources

Biodiversity: Journal of Life on Earth is a new journal which has evolved from the internationally recognized journal "Global Biodiversity". The new publication is being produced 4 times a year by Tropical Conservancy, based in Canada. For further details contact: Biodiversity, 94, Four Seasons Drive, Nepean, Ontario, Canada K2E 7S1. Email: WWW: .

Guidelines to the Use of Wild Birds. The Ornithological Council has had Guidelines to the Use of Wild Birds translated into Spanish. It is available free of charge to ornithologists in Central and South America and the Caribbean. However, we cannot afford to send individual copies by mail and would appreciate it if those planning trips to those regions would take copies with them for distribution to colleagues, students, local colleges and universities, and museums. The Spanish translation is also posted on BIRDNET Information: Ellen Paul, Executive Director, The Ornithological Council. Email: <>.

An Introduction to Cloud Forest Trees: Monteverde, Costa Rica. William A. Haber, Willow Zuchowski, and Erick Bello. 2000. Mountain Gem Publications, Apdo.50, Monteverde, Costa Rica 5655. 208pp. 100 B&W illus. ISBN 9977124183. $14.95. This is an illustrated field guide for identifying cloud forest trees and learning about their ecology and use. It features 88 species, and includes keys, accounts of 12 families, and a tree species list for the Monteverde region. Orders: Cogans,

CIDA Forestry Advisers Network (CFAN). CFAN has recently posted two new presentations on its website - "Ecuador: Natural Resource Management" and "International Analog Forestry Network." WWW: . CFAN has also prepared a draft paper on tropical forests and climate change which is intended for a non-technical audience. Its intent is to raise public awareness and contribute to a broader understanding of challenges and possible solutions. CFAN invites Tropinet readers to review it and send them comments and suggestions. The draft is found at WWW: . When finalized, the paper will also have an extensive bibliography of Internet resources on climate change and forests. If you know of websites that you would recommend, please forward the site addresses (URLs) to us.

World Resources Institute Publications:

Logging Burma's Frontier Forests: Resources and the Regime. J. Brunner, K. Talbot, and C. Elkin. 1998. 56 pp. ISBN: 1-56973-266-3. $20.00. This report reveals how transnational Asian companies with lower logging standards enter into "private contracts" with corrupt local elites for short-term profits that ignore the benefits of sustainable forest management for the country's economy. The authors offer alternative solutions and recommendations on how to influence these Asian logging companies to respect existing national laws and international legislation.

All That Glitters in Not Gold: Balancing Conservation and Development in Venezuela's Frontier Forests. M. Miranda, A. Blanco-Uribe, L. Hernandez, J. Ochoa, E. Yerena. 1998. 60 pp. ISBN: 1-56973-251-5 (English), or 1-56973-252-3 (Spanish). $20.00. Venezuela is home to one of the last large blocks of the earth's original forest area. This frontier forests is found in Venezuela's Guayana region, south of the Orinoco River, and contains 75 percent of the country's plant species. The region, however, is threatened by ongoing extractive activities in the areas of gold and diamond mining, logging, and oil exploration, as well as highway development. The current five-year plan of the Venezuelan government calls for even further development of the region to improve the local and national economy, including plans for increased agricultural production and the establishment of new settlements along the nation's border. This report analyzes these plans, taking into account the realities of current forest resource used and the possible environmental and social implications of increasing the intensity of resource extraction in the region.

The Last Frontier Forests: Ecosystems and Economies on the Edge. D. Bryant. 1997. 44pp. ISBN: 1-56973-198-5 (English), 1-56973-223-x (Spanish), 1-56973-221-3 (French), 1-56973-239-6 (Russian). $20.00. This report provides the first description of the location and status of the world's frontier forests -- the large, ecologically intact, and relatively undisturbed natural forests that still remain.

Balancing Acts: Community Based Forest Management and National Law in Asia and the Pacific. O.J. Lynch, K. Talbott, and M.S. Berdan. 1995. 188 pp. ISBN: 1-56973-033-4. $20.00. Despite increasing interest in community-based forest management, real on the ground progress is still lagging. This report describes and analyzes the various legal, historical, and cultural settings under which community-based forest management initiatives have been forged, and more importantly, are being revised in response to ever more severe forest degradation. Data and analysis emerging from the seven countries studied in this report are included, examining sustainable community-based management of forest resources in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

Backs to the Wall in Suriname: Forest Policy in a Country in Crisis. N. Sizer and R. Rice. 1995. 46pp. ISBN: 1-56973-034-2. $20.00. With pristine tropical rainforest blanketing 80% of its terrain, Suriname is among the world's most heavily forested countries. But this nation, on the brink of economic collapse, is poised to award forest concessions covering one fourth of its territory to Asian timber companies. This report examines the proposed concession contracts and proposes options for a more sustainable approach. Backs to the Wall offers specific proposals for more sustainable development strategies.

Other publications:

American Bamboos. 1999. Emmet J. Judziewicz, Lynn G. Clark, Ximena Londoño, and Margaret J. Stern. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. Includes chapters on morphology, ecology, human uses, and cultivation. It also includes illustrated keys to the tribes and genera, and species descriptions. The book is beautifully produced, with maps, line drawings, and color photographs throughout. 392 pp. ISBN 1-56098-569-0, $45.00.

Missouri Botanical Gardens Publications:

Margaret A. Dix and Michael W. Dix. 1999. Orchids of Guatemala: A Revised Annotated Checklist. Missouri Botanical Garden Press. ISBN 0-915279-66-5.

Luer, Carlyle A. 1999. Systematics of Pleurothallis: Sugenera Pleurothallis, Pseudostelis, and Acuminatia. Icones Pleurothallidinarum XVII. ISBN 9-915279-79-7.

Luer, Carlyle A. 1999. Systematics of Masdevallia (Part One). Icones Pleurothallidinarum XVIX. ISBN 0-915279-80-0.ñØØ