Plant Science Bulletin archive
Issue: 1962 v8 No 3 Fall
PLANT SCIENCE BULLETIN
A Publication of the Botanical Society of America, Inc.
VOLUME 8 SEPTEMBER 1962 NUMBER 3
Toward Better International Cooperation in the Life Sciences
G. LEDYARD STEBBINS 1
University of California
The modern world is being transformed and dominated by natural science. This truism is accepted by everyone, from the leaders of the great nations, who are ordering the construction of giant satellites and missiles, to the farmers in the least developed nations who are longing for more tools and fertilizers to help them produce more food, or for the latest insecticides to help them combat pests. As the work of scientists becomes more complex, the need for cooperation on a world-wide scale becomes ever more pressing. In the physical sciences, financial support for international cooperation has been assured by the need for mutual defense. On the other hand, the applications of the life sciences, which are less immediately concerned with national survival, have sometimes appeared to national leaders to be of secondary importance. Consequently, financial support of international cooperation in biology has often been less than adequate. Nevertheless, the ultimate well being of the world's peoples in the future will depend more and more on progress made in the life sciences, including their applications to improving our health and combatting fatal diseases, to increasing the world's food supply, and to preserving our priceless heritage of natural living resources. In biology, as in all branches of sciences, progress will depend increasingly on cooperation between all nations at every level. This is the proposition to which the International Union of Biological Sciences is dedicated, and which is the primary reason for its existence.
WHY HAVE AN INTERNATIONAL UNION OF
Let us imagine the following situation, resembling one which actually existed recently. A group of embryologists in Tokyo has made some important discoveries about the way in which animal tissues develop, and how this development is related to abnormal growth, or cancer. They would like to show their results to embryologists working in other parts of the world, and find out how their discoveries re-late to those made in other laboratories. Even after all published papers have been read, big questions have arisen which can be answered only by face to face discussions over the laboratory table, and by careful comparisons of different preparations observed through the same microscope. Consequently, these Japanese embryologists decide to hold a symposium on their special topic, and obtain funds from their government and local institutions for this purpose.
I Dr. Stebbins is Secretary General of the International Union of Biological Sciences, with offices at Davis, California.
But travel from any part of the world to Japan is very ex-pensive, and all of the resources available to them at home are insufficient to pay travel expenses of foreign visitors. Upon inquiry, they find that large laboratories and academies in the United States, U.S.S.R., France, and England are much interested in these discoveries, and are able to pay the expenses of their own specialists to attend the symposium in Tokyo so as to bring back word of them at first hand. But how about Dr. S— who works in the Netherlands, Dr. T— in Yugoslavia, Dr. W— in Poland, and Dr. Z— in Colombia? All of these embryologists have made highly significant contributions to this topic, and their presence would be essential for the success of the symposium. Their institutions and governments are anxious to have them go, but funds are limited, and if they went to Japan, many other scientists in the same countries could find equally good reasons for making long journeys, and so create drains on the treasury which could not possibly be met.
Yet, attendance of these scientists from smaller nations at such symposia is equally or even more important than regular trips by the leading scientists of the larger nations. With the ease of travel under modern conditions, and the larger budgets of the major countries, scientists from these countries have opportunities relatively often to meet each other personally and exchange ideas at first hand. Consequently, the experience of an international symposium means far more to a scientist working in a country with limited financial means, than in one of the world's major centers. But no national organization exists to provide adequately for the needs of such scientists. The obvious answer is that cooperation through an international union can in such situations do something which is beyond the resources of any national organization directly interested in this problem. In the life sciences this is one of the functions of IUBS. Other functions will be described below.
INTERNATIONAL POSITION AND DEVELOPMENT OF IUBS
Our Union, having been founded in 1919 with the original League of Nations, is one of the oldest of the official international scientific organizations. In 1947, the IUBS joined other similar international scientific unions to form the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU). The formation of this Council was stimulated by the newly organized United Nations, through its Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Since then, the International Council of Scientific Unions, although always maintaining an independent status, has received much
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help, both moral and financial, from UNESCO.
The International Union of Biological Sciences has had less association with those agencies of the United Nations concerned with the practical application of scientific re-search, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO), and Inter-national Atomic Energy Association (IAEA). Nevertheless, consultants from these organizations regularly attend meetings of IUBS or its committees when problems of mutual interest are being discussed. Close collaboration exists also between IUBS and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). On an international scale, connection between research in basic biology and its application to problems of human welfare can be secured best by collaboration between the activities of IUBS and those of the applied agencies mentioned above.
During the postwar period, international cooperation in biology increased to such an extent that the activities of IUBS had to be greatly expanded. Consequently in 1953, when the delegates of the Union met for their General Assembly in Nice, they recommended the appointment of a temporary consultative board, charged with reorganizing the Union. This committee, under the direction of Dr. Paul Weiss of the Rockefeller Institute, made a series of recommendations and a new set of statutes. When these were adopted by the General Assembly at Rome in 1955, the modern era of IUBS began. The vigor and growth of the Union in its reorganized form was due largely to the administrative ability, energy, enthusiasm, and devotion to all phases of biology which were shown by the two major officers elected at Rome: Professor Sven Horstadius of Sweden, President; and Professor Giuseppe Montalenti of Italy, Secretary General, who succeeded Hōrstadius as President in 1958. These two officers, who retired from their key positions respectively in 1958 and 1961, performed services of inestimable value to the Union and to international biology during their periods of tenure.
At present, therefore, the International Union of Biological Sciences is one of fourteen unions adhering to the Inter-national Council of Scientific Unions, and receiving sup-port from UNESCO through ICSU as well as from the member nations of IUBS itself. Thirty two separate nations adhere to IUBS and join in support of its activities. These are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China (Taiwan), Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Iran, Italy, Israel, Japan, Luxembourg, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Union of South Africa, United Arab Re-public, United Kingdom, U.S.S.R., U.S.A., and Yugoslavia.
ORGANIZATION OF THE UNION
In most countries, responsibility for membership in the Union is in the hands of national academies and similar bodies. They nominate delegates to the General Assemblies, recommend the number of unit contributions which the nation should pay as annual dues to the Union, and make recommendations concerning its policy and activities. There are no individual memberships. The activity of the United States in the Union is determined by a Committee appointed by the Division of Biology and Agriculture of the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council and operating also under the direction of the Foreign Secretary of the Academy. In the past, the minimum amount of dues paid annually by a nation has been the equivalent of zoo Swiss francs (about $46). The larger nations have voted to pay several of these basic units, the total amount being determined by their size and resources. The largest amount, paid by the United States, is 50 units, or about $2300. At the General Assembly in Amsterdam, 1961, the size of the unit contribution was increased to $loo.
The business of the Union is carried on by an Executive Committee, which meets annually; by the officers of twenty-two different sections, commissions, and other permanent bodies, representing various fields of biology; and by a General Assembly, which meets every three years. The last General Assembly was held in Amsterdam in July, 1961, and the next Assembly is scheduled for Prague in 1964. At the General Assembly, the delegates of the separate nations and the officers of the sections join with the Executive Committee in outlining the business and policy of the Union for the next three years.
The present membership of the Executive Committee is as follows: President, C. H. Waddington (United Kingdom) ; Vice President, P. Chouard (France) ; General Secretary, G. L. Stebbins (U.S.A.) ; Publications Secretary, R. Ulrich (France) ; Treasurer, J. Lanjouw (Netherlands) ; Past President, G. Montalenti (Italy) ; Representatives of General Biology, M. Chevremont (Belgium), and C. G. Heden (Sweden) ; Representatives of Botany, A. Kursanov (U.S.S.R.), and G. Taylor (United Kingdom); Representatives of Zoology, J. Baer (Switzerland), and K. Grell (Germany). The members serve for terms of three years, and they may be re-elected.
Because of the diversity of biology, the structure of the Union has necessarily become rather complex. It contains three divisions: those of General Biology, Botany, and Zoology, each of which contains several sections. In addition, certain specialized tasks are assigned to semipermanent commissions and to permanent service bodies. For instance, the Division of Botany contains sections of General Botany, Plant Physiology, Plant Taxonomy and Nomenclature, and Paleobotany. In addition, Plant Ecology is to be handled by a newly created Section of Ecology, associated with the Division of General Biology, while Plant Genetics is included in the Section of Genetics. Other sections dealing with topics of interest to plant scientists are those of Biochemistry, Biometry and Cell Biology, all associated with the Division of General Biology. As can be seen from this list, the organization of sections has not followed an all inclusive plan designed to represent every field of biology. Sections have been established whenever a group of biologists, usually organized into an international society or federation for the purpose of holding international congresses, has desired to become affiliated with IUBS, and their application has been approved by the Delegates at the General Assembly. The Union may, therefore, be regarded as a federation of international biological societies which have united to promote their common interests.
The general objective of the International Union of Biological Sciences, which is to provide an international unifying force in biology, is being carried out in three ways: Aid in standardization of the methods and language of biology, helping biologists to organize symposia and congresses, and organizing international research projects in basic biology which will contribute to human welfare. The first of these functions is the oldest and most firmly established. The Union has for many years given financial support to the Committees of Botanical, Zoological, and Bacteriological Nomenclature, and the activities of these committees have been regularly reviewed by the General Assemblies. To assist standardization of materials in Genetics and Microbiology, it has supported the maintenance of permanent cultures of Drosophila and of various microorganisms. It has represented biology on the International Abstracting Board, which aims at establishing international standards for abstracts of scientific publications. Other tasks of standardization have been supported from time to time, as needs have arisen. In the plant sciences, for instance, it has sup-ported the work of the International Botanical Gardens Commission in compiling a Directory of Botanical Gardens, of the Section of Plant Taxonomy and Nomenclature in compiling an International Directory of Specialists in Plant Taxonomy, and the Index Herbariorum, an index of the world's herbaria.
In recent years, the sponsorship of congresses and symposia has been the major function of the Union. The relatively limited funds obtained from membership dues have been generously increased by an annual subvention from the International Council of Scientific Unions, which has been supported in turn, by UNESCO. Nevertheless, the Union is able to give only partial support of the meetings which it sponsors; most of its subventions have been $$1500 or $2000. Although no rigid rules exist regarding the use of these funds, the Union prefers to have them spent for travel and subsistence of scientists attending the congresses and symposia. Contributions have also been made to organizational expenses, particularly for the larger congresses. In the plant sciences, support was given to the International Botanical Congress at Montreal in 1959, and for preliminary organization of the next Botanical Congress at Edinburgh in 1964. The following symposia in the plant sciences have been and are being supported during 1961 and 1962: Marine Algae, Biarritz, France; Development of Archegoniate Plants, London; Controlled Plant Growth, Canberra, Australia; Problems of Botanical Gardens, Brussels. Requests for support are received by the General Secretary either from the secretaries of sections or from individual organizers of symposia, and are reviewed by the Executive Committee at its annual meetings each November.
The interest of IUBS in gatherings of scientists extends beyond sponsorship and financial support of individual meetings. The Union maintains a calendar of biological congresses and symposia for three years in advance, and is in a position to suggest dates for holding meetings which will not conflict with those in related fields. Furthermore, at each of its General Assemblies it has been much concerned with how large international congresses should be conducted, and what useful purpose they may serve. At the last Assembly in Amsterdam, for instance, secretaries and other officers of international congresses which have been recently held in the fields of botany, genetics, and microbiology, exchanged experiences with officers who were organizing future congresses in these fields, as well as in zoology, limnology, entomology, and biometry. The liveliness of their discussion as well as of those which have pre-ceded it in past General Assemblies, is ample testimony of the value of such exchanges of experiences and opinions between biologists who have similar tasks to perform for aiding different segments of the life sciences.
AID AND PARTICIPATION IN INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH
Direct participation in organizing biological research on an international scale is the newest activity of the International Union of Biological Sciences, and is still in an embryonic stage. Nevertheless, as the science of biology progresses, particularly in the less developed countries, this activity is likely to increase, and may become the most important of all. Part of it is in an advisory capacity. At the General Assembly in Amsterdam, the Union complied with a request made by the Naples Biological Station to establish an Advisory Committee of biologists, which will review the research activities of the Station, and make suggestions as to future policies. They also supported in principle the plan of UNESCO to establish an International Cell Research Organization, which aims to coordinate re-search activity in this basic field. On the other hand, the Union did not agree with the opinion expressed by some biologists that UNESCO and IUBS should sponsor the
formation of an International Laboratory, with separate buildings and facilities, which would become an International Institute of Cell Biology. The delegates to the Assembly felt that in such general fields as cell biology, the chemistry of nucleic acids and the genetic code, the chemistry and physiology of photosynthesis in isolated organisms, and the neurophysiology and behavior of higher animals, existing laboratory facilities and financial support are adequate. International collaboration in these fields can best be achieved by promoting formal symposia as well as in-formal gatherings of scientists with common interests, and by international fellowships which will enable scientists from the smaller nations to study and work in the larger laboratories which now exist.
On the other hand, these general disciplines, which seek to discover the basic principles and phenomena common to all living things or to large segments of the world of life, can never encompass all of biology. Based upon common properties of cell structure and metabolic function of a biochemical nature, living things have evolved an enormous diversity of specific form and function, and have developed elaborate communities having intricate interrelationships among the organisms of which they consist. The essence of life is its diversity of specific form and function based upon a uniformity of general principles. Consequently, the study of biology must emphasize this diversity as well as the general principles which underlie it. In order to estimate the future resources of mankind, we must learn as much as we can about how solar energy can be used to manufacture food and fuel through the medium of photosynthesis. But such knowledge is not enough. Just as the engineer must study and learn to improve both the sources of energy and the specific machines by which this energy can be made to do particular kinds of work, so the biologist must learn more about both the nature of metabolic energy and the specific organisms and communities of organisms in which this energy is being used to reproduce the animals and plants which we need for food and fuel.
The latter type of information cannot be obtained by scientists working in separate laboratories, but requires field studies on as large a scale as possible, so that the organisms and communities of the world may be directly compared with each other. Furthermore, the regions of the world where the need for increasing biological productivity is greatest, and where the least is known about the means of doing this, are chiefly in the tropics, far from the larger biological institutions. Biologists familiar with the problems of these regions are still far too few, and those who have an over-all picture of actual and potential biological resources in many different regions of the earth are even fewer, or perhaps nonexistent. Here, therefore is an area of biology in which coordination of research, both between nations and between the different biological disciplines, is imperative if biology is to provide information basic to progress in such applied fields as agriculture, conservation, and public health.
With these facts in mind, the officers of IUBS and of its sister International Unions of Biochemistry and Physiology, have for the past two years been discussing informally the proposal to initiate an International Biological Program. These discussions reached a climax at a meeting called by the International Council of Scientific Unions at Morges, Switzerland in May, 1962. At this meeting definite plans for such a program were begun, and representatives of four International Unions, those of Biological Sciences, Biochemistry, Physiology, and Geography, met with representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), at whose headquarters the meeting was held. They decided on a program which would attack the problems which have been generated by man's catastrophic transformation of natural communities of living organisms, which has often decreased their productivity; by the need for increasing greatly the productivity of biotic communities to keep up with the earth's growing population; and by the physiological stresses and alterations in genetic composition which human populations have experienced as a result of these changes. The general title of the program is, therefore, "The Biological Basis of Productivity and Human Welfare."
Through the authority of ICSU, the initial planning committee assembled at Morges has become the Central Planning Committee for the Program. Its Chairman is Professor G. Montalenti of the University of Rome, and members ex officio are Professors S. Hōrstadius of Uppsala, Sweden, Vice President of ICSU, and C. H. Waddington of Edinburgh, President of IUBS. A series of subcommittees is being organized in order to plan specific projects under the program. Three of these will deal with the subject "Biological Productivity of Terrestrial Communities." One, under the chairmanship of H. Ellenberg (Zurich, Switzer-land) will plan a general survey of terrestrial communities; a second, headed by M. Florkin (Liēge, Belgium), President of the International Union of Biochemistry, will plan projects on the Metabolism of Terrestrial Communities. Projects associated with Conservation of Terrestrial Communities will be planned by a subcommittee under the leadership of Dr. M. Nicholson of the Nature Conservancy, London. Subcommittees for planning projects dealing with fresh water and ocean communities are also being organized. Finally, a subcommittee to be convened by J. S. Weiner (Oxford, England), will plan projects to study the biological basis of human adaptability, both physiological and genetical.
This research will be planned by biologists and will be strictly in basic biology. Nevertheless, an orientation toward problems of human welfare must be constantly maintained. For this purpose, each subcommittee will have one or more consulting members who represent one of the international agencies concerned with problems of applied biology: FAO, WHO, IAEA, IUCN, and others.
Because of the newness of the program, we cannot predict how much time will be required to formulate precise plans for these projects. Nevertheless, the Central Planning Committee at Morges expressed the hope that sometime in
1963 plans for projects would be far enough advanced so that they could be submitted to representative groups of biologists throughout the world for further review, and put into effect soon after that. At this preliminary stage, more-over, the time schedule of the actual research is hard to predict. The Planning Committee at Morges felt that at least for the present the organization of a single concentrated year of data gathering, similar to the IGY, would be unwise. For some of the projects contemplated, adequate methods are already available, and research is now being carried on by individual groups of biologists. For these, the work of the International Biological Program groups may become largely one of coordination, standardization, and concentration on relatively neglected areas of research. In the case of other projects, such as those associated with community metabolism, much research may have to be done on developing and standardizing methods before the actual gathering of data can begin. As plans develop the Central Committee may see the need of a series of "years," each one emphasizing some phase of the program.
Because of the size and novelty of the program contemplated, well trained personnel for conducting the research may become hard to find. Anticipating this difficulty, a subcommittee for Public Relations and Training has been established under the chairmanship of G. L. Stebbins (Davis, California). In addition to keeping biologists in-formed on the progress of the program, this subcommittee will make plans for establishing a series of International Biological Program Fellowships, at both the predoctoral and postdoctoral levels. If funds for such fellowships can be secured, they will be made available to young men and women who wish to obtain the kind of research training which will fit them particularly for the work of the projects. The fellows will be given the opportunity of carrying on research either in association with members of the planning and research committees, or in laboratories selected by them.
For biologists, this International Biological Program is a novel venture, and we cannot now predict how successful it will be. Nevertheless, the problems which we hope to at-tack are very real, and biologists have a challenging opportunity for helping mankind through such efforts. As the world grows smaller and the science of biology grows larger and more comprehensive, the need for cooperation among biologists of different nations and various disciplines will continue to increase. The fulfillment of this need in the best way possible is the avowed objective of the International Union of Biological Sciences.
Neotropical Botany Conference'
J. W. PURSEGLOVE
Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture
The first impression of a botanist visiting the tropics for the first time is one of wonder and bewilderment. He is overwhelmed by the luxuriance and the vast number of
3Text of the introductory address presented to participants in the Neotropical Botany Conference held in Trinidad, July 1-7, 1962. plant species, many of them unfamiliar—even some of the families are unfamiliar—and by the many life-forms. As he sweats from one ecological community to another, his wonder and his bewilderment increase. If he is humble enough, he soon realises, particularly if he is a well-trained botanist, that the gaps in his botanical knowledge are immense, and he will have difficulty in knowing where to begin. The taxonomist, who has worked for many years in the herbarium, is usually quite astonished when he sees the living material which looks so different from the dried specimens on herbarium sheets. I well remember Dr. John Hutchinson looking out at our College savanna in 1959 and saying, "Ah, the herbarium come to life." And the longer the botanist works in the tropics, the more he realises the gaps and the countless problems requiring attention, and they increase rather than diminish. It is the great wealth and complexity of the tropical flora and the many different habitats, from the desert to the tropical rain forest, from sea level to the perpetual snows, which make the study of tropical botany such an enthralling, but formidable task.
If one believes, as I do, that the Angiosperms arose and developed in the tropics, and that the temperate floras are depauperate and abnormal, surely botanists should pay a great deal more attention to studying their subject in the tropics. Most of the facts and theories of botany have been developed in temperate regions and these do not always apply when exported to the tropics. The same can be said for most botany textbooks. But some of the major breakthroughs in our science have occurred as a result of stimulation by the tropics. Would the theory of natural selection and evolution have been postulated as early as it was if Darwin had not visited the tropics, particularly the Galapagos Islands, and if Wallace had not worked in the Far East? Would Schimper have written his Plant-Geography if he had never left Germany? Could Corner have pro-pounded his Durian Theory if he had never seen a durian?
In his recent essay on evolution, Corner (1961) says: "Textbooks hoodwink. A series of more and more complicated plants is introduced—the alga, the fungus, the bryophyte, and so on, and examples are added eclectically in support of one or another theory—and that is held to be a presentation of evolution. If the world of plants consisted only of these few textbook types of standard botany, the idea of evolution might never have dawned, and the back-grounds of these textbooks are the temperate countries which, at best, are poor places to study world vegetation. The point, of course, is that there are thousands and thou-sands of living plants, predominantly tropical, which have never entered general botany, yet they are the bricks with which the taxonomist has built his temple of evolution, and where else have we to worship"?
With the vast upsurge of population in the tropics, more and more of the forests and other natural vegetation are being cut down and despoiled. More and more tropical countries are becoming inaccessible politically. The once famous centres of research, such as Buitenzorg (Bogor), no longer offer the same facilities. Botanic gardens of long
standing have become public parks (Purseglove, 1959). As Corner (1961) points out in regard to the tropical forest, "If we are not careful we shall lose these magnificent testimonies of evolution, whether we regard them as genes, organisms or communities on the grandest scale." The need for protection and conservation is urgent.
There is a ray of hope, however, and this lies in the recently founded universities and university colleges in the tropics. Their botany departments can do much, but this is still only a small fraction of what needs to be done. It is hoped they will attract botanists from elsewhere to come and study the plants in their natural environment. Green-houses and herbaria in temperate countries are not enough. Some of the best tropical floras and monographs have been written by those who have studied their plants in the tropics as well as on herbarium sheets. The botany of temperate countries has been studied for several centuries; tropical botany for a very short time. If one considers the number of botanists working in or on the tropics, the number is infinitesimal compared with those engaged on temperate plants and crops. We need more people interested in and working on tropical botany, more money for travelling.
Let us look at a few of the problems which present themselves within a stone's throw of where you are now sitting. Why should Murdannia nudiflora (Commelinaceae), a native plant of southeastern Asia, first reported in Trinidad in 1889, have taken over large patches of the Axonopus compressus lawn during the last three years, dying out at the beginning of the dry season, only to appear in full force with the rains? Why should the Axonopus under the Samanea saman (Leguminosae) remain green and succulent during the dry season while the grass outside the shade of the tree is burnt brown? We know that the grass under the tree contains more nitrogen. Why? Is it due to the effect of shade, temperature, leaf-fall, the water dripping from the rain tree, or is the Samanea fixing nitrogen and passing it on to the grass? In fact what do we really know of nitrogen fixation, and indeed of the nitrogen cycle in the tropics? Very little.
Why should only one of the angelin trees (Andira inermis, Leguminosae), in the group outside, be flowering at this time? Why should the yellow pouis (Tabebuia serratifolia, Bignoniaceae), which have had four good flowerings this year, all bloom at the same time over quite a wide area? Why should the new leaves of Amherstia nobilis, Saraca spp. and Brownea spp. (all Leguminosae) hang down as limp pinkish or purplish tassels and dangle for several days before stiffening and straightening? Why is the new flush of cacao and many tropical trees red? Near the Milner Hall is a tree covered with Doxantha unguis-cati (Bignoniaceae). Why should this cat's claw creeper be smothered in yellow blooms for four days every April? It is known to generations of students as the "Examination Tree," because when it blooms it is time for the students to start revising for their examinations.
Do bats pollinate the Kigelia aethiopica (Bignoniaceaethe sausage tree) over there (on the campus) as has been found in other parts of the world? This lone specimen is extremely fruitful. What causes the neat circular holes, about 1 cm. in diameter, on the top of all the flowers and buds? And what, in fact, do we know of the pollination mechanism of most tropical plants?
These are just a few of the gaps in our knowledge, but looking at the tropics as a whole they can be multiplied almost indefinitely. Why do some of the worst soils in the world, as can be found in parts of the tropical rain forests, carry some of the most magnificent vegetation? On the very poor porous wallaba (Eperua, Leguminosae) podzol in British Guiana it may be impossible to obtain even one crop of maize after clearing (Richards, 1952). And why are most tropical rain forests of such mixed composition with an absence of single-species dominance?
Do we really understand the role of ants in relation to the tropical flora? I suspect that it is much more important than we realise. It has been suggested that ants in the hollow Cecropia (Moraceae) stems protect the plants from attack by other insects. They certainly aid in dispersal of the seeds of some species, e.g., by burying the seeds of Dischidia spp. (Asclepiadaceae) and Cleome rutidosperma (Capparidaceae). It has been suggested elsewhere (Purse-glove, 1962b), that in the case of the myrmecophilous Myrmecodia and Hydnophytum (both Rubiaceae), the ants bring earth and other detritus into their nests in the swollen stems and provide nitrogenous matter with their excreta. Ants often nest in clumps of epiphytes, in which no special symbiosis is obvious, but here again they may assist with the nutrition, pollination and seed dispersal. Why do certain trees have many more epiphytes than other tree species?
The pan-tropical distribution of many weeds presents many interesting problems. Why should a plant which is an insignificant member in its native flora suddenly assume a dominant role when taken to the other side of the world? Certainly, it will be at an advantage if it has not taken its pests and diseases with it, but it often seems that the new habitat suits it better than the one in which it evolved and it becomes more competitive. Recently I was astonished to find that much of the vegetation around Bogota is introduced. Kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum) is now the dominant grass, and the composites Taraxacum and Hypochaeris are more obvious than many of the local plants. It is surprising to find that most of the tropical export crops are now produced in the largest quantity on the opposite side of the world from where they originated and some reasons have been deduced for this (Purseglove, 1962a).
The taxonomy of many of our tropical crop plants is in a frightful mess. Simmonds (1962) has pointed out that Linnean binomials and formal taxonomy are not always applicable to cultigens, as "crop plants in general are in a state of genetical flux, migration, hybridization and selection causing profound changes in the characters of crop populations in short periods of time." In some cases "the basic evolutionary steps took place at the diploid level from wild diploid ancestors. . .diploidy was followed by the human selection of autopolyploidy and of interspecific hybridity." He suggests that "the practical solution is to jetti-
son Latin nomenclature below the generic level and apply the Code for Cultivated Plants." It is necessary to study extensive living collections of the genera in question and to consider them from the evolutionary standpoint, taking into consideration cytological, genetical, geographical and archeological evidence. This is precisely what was done in working out the classification of the genera Gossypium and Musa, most of the work being done in Trinidad. Even the origin of some crop plants, which do not occur in a wild state, e.g., sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas), is far from being finalised.
What do we know of the evolution and advantages of the life-forms in the various tropical habitats? Why should the same life-form have evolved in species of Espeletia (Compositae) and Puya (Bromeliaceae) at 11,000 ft. on the paramos of the Andes as is found in the species of Senecio (Compositae) and Lobelia at the same altitude on the East African mountains?
Here at the College we are attempting to find answers to a few of the questions. We now have three years' records of phenological data taken weekly on some 400 plant specimens around the College. Postgraduate students have investigated weed succession and the biology and ecology of a few of our worst weed species, using as a basis the Biological flora of the British Isles as published in the Journal of Ecology. Valuable work has been done on cacao and bananas; work is in progress on citrus and food crops.
But the amount of work remaining to be done is immense. If this Conference on Neotropical Botany can focus attention on some of the major gaps and problems and find the ways and means to encourage people to work on them, I feel that we shall not have wasted our time. If we can persuade botanists to leave their temperate climates and expose them to the tropics it might have the effect of a blood transfusion to the study of botany as a whole. Those whose blood groups are compatible might continue to work on tropical problems; the shock to those whose blood groups are incompatible would be salutary, provided it did not prove fatal.
Botanists at all levels should be encouraged to visit the tropics—the undergraduate, the Ph.D. student, the post doctorate, and, even more important, those who already have an established reputation. The formation of an association for the study of neotropical botany similar to l'Assoelation pour l'Etude Taxonomique de la Fiore d'Afrique Tropicale might do much to co-ordinate the work which is already in progress. I feel that a regular publication similar to the Flora Malesiana Bulletin would be found useful. I suggest that such an association should include all aspects of botany, as we are doing at this Conference. Consideration should he given to the compilation and publication of a vegetation map of the neotropics as has already been clone by A.E.T.F.A.T. for Africa and by Dr. C. G. G. J. van Steenis for Malaysia.
Finally, I extend an invitation on behalf of the University of the West Indies for botanists to come and use the facilities offered by the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture. We shall be very glad to see them.
CORNER, E. J. H. 1961. Evolution in Contemporary botanical thought. A. M. Macleod and L. S. Cobley, ed. Oliver and Boyd. Edinburgh.
PURSECLOVE, J. W. 1959. History and functions of botanic gardens with special reference to Singapore. Gardens Bull. Singapore 17: 125-154.
. 1962a. Some problems of the origin and distribution of tropical crops. Gcnetica Agraria. In press.
. 1962b. Plants and plant communities of the Bako National Park, Sarawak. Gardens Bull. Singapore. In press.
RICI-IARDS, P. W. 1952. The tropical rain forest. University Press. Cambridge.
Responsibilities and Opportunities of the Taxonomist Today-
A. J. SHARP
The University of Tennessee
Taxonomy and taxonomists have been subjected recently to much criticism because they and their science "have not made the maximum use of the modern data and techniques available to them." Many critics believe that we have unwittingly or intentionally ignored the findings of cytology, of genetics, of physiology, and of other phases of biology, and have not fully exploited statistical, biochemical, and biophysical methods. I will not deny that in part we deserve these criticisms.
Traditionally, taxonomists and systematists primarily have used comparative gross morphology, and to a more limited extent ecology and geography, in pursuing their science. In addition, many of our interpretations have been opinions, and in the words of some of our censors, "not quantitative." Up to the present, our science has been, in part, an art, intuitive and descriptive, and of necessity, in part must continue to be so. We are not quite ready to communicate to our present-day colleagues or to the botanists of the future, descriptions of plants or species or even vegetation in strictly quantitative terms. Perhaps the time may come when we can, but I doubt that, allegorically speaking, a fingerprint formula will ever completely substitute for a picture of the finger. Both will prove useful, and the artist and the computer must both be retained.
By the previous statements, I am not trying to relieve the taxonomists of their obligations to use the philosophies and tools of related and supporting disciplines. Indeed, to understand adequately the systematics and taxonomy of organisms we must insist on more training for ourselves and our students, not only in the related "quantitative" fields of chemistry, physics, and mathematics, but also in the impinging practical fields, e. g., horticulture, plant breeding, agronomy, phytopathology. An understanding of these and other disciplines such as developmental morphology, palynology, and paleontology are necessary to a full comprehension of systematic botany. In spite of the fact that many
1 This paper is a condensed version of the presidential address delivered by Dr. A. J. Sharp to the American Society of Plant Taxonomists at the A. I. B. S. meetings in August, 1961. His speech was originally published in its entirety in The American Biology Teacher 24 (2): 87-90. 1962. Because of the pertinence of Dr. Sharp's remarks, and the limited circulation among professional botanists of the original publication, the Editorial Board has concurred that his speech be reprinted in Plant Science Bulletin.
taxonomists realize the implications of related sciences better than the practitioners in those fields understand taxonomy, we must continually strive to improve our knowledge and use of related data and techniques in order to advance our discipline. We have no license to do otherwise, and at no time in the past have we had such great and numerous opportunities available to us for the enrichment of our science. We are obligated to take full advantage of them for the sake of humanity, if not for ourselves.
This brings me to the main theme of my discussion—the responsibilities and opportunities presented to taxonomists by man's most serious problem today: that of providing plant resources for the rapidly increasing human populations. The most recent estimates of the world population are somewhat higher than we anticipated they would be, over 3 billion in 1961, a gain of 1.7 per cent each year. The United States with its present rate of increase will have one billion people in 90 years. It is to plants that people, perhaps without being aware of their dependence, look for all of their food, most of their clothing, much of their housing, fuel, and drugs, not to mention agents in conserving water, soil, and wildlife. The additional demand for plants by the extra people each year is compounded by the individual's desire for a better standard of living. Thus, an increase of 1.7 per cent in the annual production of plants does not satisfy society. The Asiatic Indians seem to understand this problem better than most, and to summarize the observations of Mr. Nehru and Mr. Chagla—the problem must be faced and solved in the foreseeable future, or man will be reduced to the condition of a subhuman animal. The rate of increase in available plant resources is not keeping pace with that of populations, and it is not impossible to visualize man with a totally inadequate diet and his clothing reduced to a bandana or a bikini which would poorly serve the Tibetan or the Eskimo.
As man becomes civilized he seems to lose his awareness that his culture is based on plants, an awareness probably most fully developed among primitive peoples. The complications of so-called "advanced" civilizations, and of industrialization, seem effectively to isolate and insulate man from the environments in which are produced the materials on which his culture is based. This relationship between human culture and plants must be fully understood by our society today, and I feel that the taxonomist with his knowledge of nature must share in the responsibilities and opportunities inherent in recreating this awareness.
In recent years much has been written and said about the possible damage to genes by various types of radiation. Very little emphasis has been placed upon the loss of, not single genes, not just chromosomes, but whole genomes or complex genetic systems, through extinction. The biological destruction wrought by multiplying man is terrifying. Between unstable governments, huge mobile machinery, and philosophies of perpetually expanding economies, large areas are being radically modified. For example, I have recently been informed by botanical friends from both Mexico and the United States that the Mexican cloud forests which I studied in 1944-46 have subsequently been reduced to less than half their former area by man's activities.
Any appreciable and rapid change in environment inevitably brings about the extinction of forms, varieties, species, or less apparent genetic systems. Many of these, if conserved, would serve as new basic raw materials in industry or breeding stock for the improvement of crops, drug plants, or even ornamentals.
I have asked several of my friends who are members of this organization to suggest what proportion of plant species in the world are still to be discovered, described, and named. The estimates have varied from a little over io per cent to something over 75 per cent, depending in part on whether or not they were including non-vascular plants. To lose a significant part of any genetic material through our failure to recognize its importance to the future would be an error that we or society could ill afford. Because of the nature of our science and our training, in a very real sense we are the custodians of the gene pool for posterity. I cannot emphasize too strongly its importance to society in terms of in-creasing food production, or producing better or new antibiotics or other drugs, increased and improved fresh-water supplies, and otherwise enhancing the welfare of mankind.
Between mounting population pressures, the increasing use of gigantic, earth-moving, tree-cutting and "busting" machinery, rampant nationalism, and carelessness in protecting resources, what is needed today is a crash program of botanical, I would even suggest biological, exploration for, and conservation of, presently unknown genetic materials by preservation in natural areas and botanical gardens. Along with this should go descriptions and classifications of entities, of communities, and of environments, which are soon to vanish from the earth. We must not discount the work of the explorer, or of the collector, or of the artist or describer, none of whom may use quantitative techniques but still eagerly make important contributions and free other workers for additional phases of the work. Even descriptions or exsiccati in the herbarium, of extinct entities, will prove invaluable in the future to our understanding of evolution and other mechanisms in our universe.
Fortunately an International Biological Project, IBP, perhaps somewhat comparable to the IGY but of longer duration, has already been under consideration by members of the National Academy of Sciences and the United States National Committee of the International Union of Biological Sciences and has been discussed by others. This project would be a big step in the right direction, and we must fully support it. Any such project of necessity must include a program of exploration, description, classification, making an inventory and conservation of materials more or less as outlined previously. To fail to include such a program, for whatever reason, would not only increase tremendously the difficulties of solving the population-plant resources problem in general, but deny to many of the under-developed countries the preservation of the basic re-sources upon which the improvement of their economy depends. Such a project must educate the nationalists in such areas not "to kill the goose that lays the golden egg," or in
other words, not to exploit wantonly their biological re-sources leaving only waste for future generations.
The cost of such a program may seem large, but it is actually small compared to the economic losses to be sustained by our failure to locate and conserve endangered genetic resources. There are biologists who would deny subsidy to such a program. Working on processes within a cell or an organism, they forget the intimate relationship between the organism and its environment. Moreover, some of them seem to feel that all taxa have been collected, described, and classified, and that an herbarium has little more scientific value than a stamp collection. I must remind them, that while many of their laboratory problems may be satisfactorily worked on ten or a hundred years from now, this is not true of our program. Exploitation is taking place so rapidly in the world today that only with a very active program can we successfully detect and conserve vanishing genetic plant or biological reservoirs. Failure will mean that we cannot often supply the biochemist, or biophysicist, or cytogeneticist with the materials they will need in the future for the solutions of problems many of which they do not now recognize.
Our responsibility in the matter of population control is somewhat limited but still with us, if we are to take seriously our duties as citizens and scientists. However, the nature of our science and our training insists that we, the taxonomists and other field biologists, 'recognize and understand the problems of producing adequate plant materials for larger and larger human populations. An awareness of the nature and of the urgency, which I feel very keenly, of these problems and of the taxonomists' possible roles in their solutions brings with it definite responsibilities. We must educate and "sell" to the public, to the politicians, to the statesmen on the world scene, and even to many of our own colleagues in related sciences, a vigorous program of exploration for, and conservation of, plant materials today unknown.
There are other matters in which we have responsibilities, and which need our attention: For example, the recruitment of young workers to our field, a more adequate use of youngsters and amateurs in our research programs, the preservation of local natural areas for future educational and training programs. All of these and others, if properly handled, could furnish us with much greater opportunities.
Should we fulfill these obligations, it will provide us with opportunities, such as we never have had, not only of better serving society and our profession, but of obtaining vastly enhanced bases for understanding evolution, systematics, and phylogeny. Perhaps most important, we cannot be censured now or in the future for failing to accept the responsibility which belongs to us.
Development and structure of plants. A photographic
study. ADDISON E. LEE AND CHARLES HEIMSCH. I-Iv + 64 pp.
1962. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York. $1.50
This paperbound book, a collection of photographs of morphological and histological material selected from seed plants with descriptive text, is designed as a visual aid, either alone or as a supplement, in the teaching of elementary biology or botany. Various numbered structures in the illustrations are identified in the text. Represented in the collection of photographs are materials commonly used in elementary courses as well as some less common items to illustrate variation in structure. Separate chapters deal with each of the plant organs, with seeds and seedlings, and with embryo development. The well organized and concise text accompanying the illustrations comments briefly on aspects of structure, development and function. Brevity has dictated some omissions which some users might have preferred to see included. For example, the origin of cambium is not made clear. Some readers may twinge at the teleological statement, "In many grasses the leaves curl to prevent water loss," but such statements are rare, and in general there are few errors. The book is conveniently indexed.
Quality of the photographs is superior. Although some detail is lost in the printing process, this is probably inevitable at the reasonable price. Choice of material for illustration fits admirably with the stated purpose of the publication.
In my opinion the book would be useful in introductory biology or botany courses as a supplement if the added expense to the student can be justified. This seems an efficient method of acquainting the beginning student with the fundamentals of plant structure with a minimum expenditure of time on his part. Whether observation and identification in photographs is as effective as observation and drawing, the bane of many students, remains largely a matter of subjective viewpoint. Here is an opportunity to test the photograph approach.—W. F. MILLINGTON, Marquette University.
News and Notes
A NEOTROPICAL BOTANY CONFERENCE was held at the
Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture, St. Augustine, Trinidad from I -j July 1962, under a grant from the National Science Foundation. Thirty invited delegates from Latin America, the United States, Holland, and the Carib-bean attended to discuss the major gaps in our knowledge of the various botanical disciplines in the New World tropics, and to suggest ways and means by which they might be narrowed. In the course of the discussions, it became apparent that the field should not be limited to neotropical botany alone, but that consideration had to be given to the study of tropical biology as a whole. To further this aim, the Trinidad Conference constituted the AssoclATION FOR TROPICAL BIOLOGY whose purposes and functions would be: 1) to stimulate, encourage and support research in tropical biology; 2) to promote the training and interchange of students, teachers and investigators in this field; and 3) the development of facilities to attain these objectives. A small international working committee was appointed with Professor John W. Purseglove of Trinidad acting as chair-
man. Membership in the new association is open to all interested in tropical biology. The membership fee of $1 U. S., or equivalent, should be sent to Professor Purseglove, Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture, St. Augustine, Trinidad. Persons who join before 31 December 1962 will be regarded as founder members of the association.
The UNIVERSITY ARBORETUM OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA has indicated the availability without charge of a mimeographed abstract of Charles T. Mohr's Plant life of Alabama, and A check-list of Alabama woody plants. The complete version of the former work is out-of-print and extant copies have deteriorated badly. Furthermore, the en-tire work is seriously in need of revision. Written demand for the mimeographed abstract of Mohr's work will help in part to determine the need for publication of a printed revision, and a questionnaire page is inserted in the abstract to further this aim. Those desiring either the abstract, the check-list, or both are urged to communicate with Dr. E. Gibbes Patton, Director, University of Alabama Arboretum, P. O. Box 1927, University, Alabama.
ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA FILMS is preparing a series of nine science filmstrips on plant classification for release to schools this autumn. The filmstrips will be distributed to high school biology teachers and are being produced with the collaboration of Professors Howard Arnott and Robert Doyle of Northwestern University. In preparation of the filmstrips, it is possible to utilize standard 35, mm. color transparencies. A number of subjects which should be included in the filmstrip series are still lacking, and botanists who might be interested in supplying films to Encyclopaedia Britannica for this purpose should write to Mr. Winslow Kelley, Associate in Filmstrip Production, Encyclopaedia Britannica Films, Inc., Wilmette, Illinois, for a list of desired subjects. Transparencies selected for inclusion in the film-strip series will be purchased for $Io.00 and a duplicate prepared for the donor.
A SUMMER INSTITUTE ON EVOLUTION IN VASCULAR PLANTS, with Dr. R. B. Channell and Dr. Elsie Quarterman as co-directors, was held at Vanderbilt University June 18 to July 27. This Institute, which was designed for teachers of college botany, was supported by the National Science Foundation and sponsored by the Botanical Society of America.
DR. WILLIAM C. STEERS, Director of the New York Botanical Garden, received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Michigan in June. Dr. Steere served on the Michigan faculty from 1931 until 1950 when he went to Stanford University, ultimately to become Dean of the Graduate Division there. He took up his position in New York in 1958.
The Society of Sigma-Xi has announced the award of $200 to DR. IRVING W. KNOBLOCH of Michigan State University. This award is to assist in his study of the contribution of anatomy to speciation problems in certain members of the genus Cheilanthes.
DR. MARTIN ROSINSKI and DR. GEORGE WOODWELL have resigned their positions as Associate Professors of Botany in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology at the University of Maine. DR. RosrNsKI is now an associate professor in the Department of Botany at the University of Iowa where he teaches mycology and cares for the mycological collections. DR. WOODWELL has been appointed to the staff,of Brookhaven National Laboratory. During the past year he was on leave from Maine to direct studies in the influence of radiation on the ecology of a forest community.
DR. GRAHAM DUSHANE, until recently Editor of Science has assumed his duties as Head of the Department of Biology and Dean of the Graduate Sciences at Vanderbilt University. Under Dr. DuShane, the Department of Biology will again be administered as a single unit.
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR R. B. CHANNELL, plant taxonomist at Vanderbilt University, was recently promoted to an associate professorship. Professor Channell continues to serve as Director of Vanderbilt's Graduate Program in Plant Evolution which is supported in large part by a National Defense Education Act training grant.
DR. ROBERT W. LONG, formerly of the Department of Botany and Bacteriology at Ohio Wesleyan University, has accepted a position as Associate Professor of Botany and Curator of the Herbarium at the University of South Florida in Tampa. DR. HENRY DECKER of Yale University succeeds Dr. Long at Ohio Wesleyan as Assistant Professor of Botany.
DR. CHARLES E. MILLER, Department of Biology, Texas A. & M. College, has accepted an associate professorship in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology at the University of Maine.
DR. JOSEPH C. GILMAN, Professor of Botany (retired) at Iowa State University, has accepted a position as Visiting Lecturer in Mycology in the Department of Botany at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, for the academic year 1962-1963.
MR. STANWYN G. SHETLER has recently been appointed to the staff of the Department of Botany at the Smithsonian Institution. Mr. Shetler is completing his graduate studies in botany at the University of Michigan. His responsibilities at the Smithsonian include curatorial work on the flora of continental North America north of Mexico. He is especially interested in arctic and alpine floras and vegetation, and in the taxonomy of the genus Campanula.