Plant Science Bulletin archive
Issue: 1970 v16 No 1 Spring
PLANT SCIENCE BULLETIN
A Publication of the Botanical Society of America, Inc.
March, 1970 Volume Sixteen Number One
Plants, People and Polotics1
Arthur W. Galstoss
To anyone teaching at a university or college in the United States or anywhere in the Western World, one of the key words of everyday conversation has come to be relevance. Students are questioning as never before the relevance of their studies to the real world outside the academy. While many of them recognize that important improvements in man's estate have stemmed from undirected, ivory-tower type pure research, they are also aware that many professors deliberately turn their backs on pressing social problems for which their expertise would be useful. They criticize modern academics as inheritors of a tradition which glorifies the impractical, which demeans the applied and excuses almost any kind of intellectual effort on the grounds that it may one day become important. Witnessing the huge gap between our advanced science-technology and our imperfect social order, our students find it difficult to understand why we, who possess the knowledge that might contribute toward the solution of these pressing social problems, fail to volunteer our services. They wonder what it is that we find so all-encompassing in our laboratories that keeps us from the problems which are close at hand and which cry urgently for solution. In their inability to understand our apparent indifference, their voices grow more strident, their actions more violent. Their attitudes toward science change: science no longer promises the better life, but rather a harsher, depersonalized overtechnologized existence, devoid of higher social values. They turn away from science, to other vocations.
Should we be concerned by a generation "turned off" on science? Are we not forging ahead technically, educationally, and scientifically as rapidly as we can afford to do? Is our society not, in fact, the most prosperous in the history of man? Must we in any way respond to the cries of those who are disaffected with the present order? I suggest that to ignore the requests for dialogue from a large, or even a small, group of our student col-
1 Address of the Retiring President of the Botanical Society of America, presented at the Society's annual banquet, and held in conjunction with the International Botanical Congress, August 27, 1969, at Seattle, Washington.
leagues in educational adventure is not only impolite, possibly arrogant, but also dangerous. For when discontent is not channeled into proper constructive path-ways, violence and destruction frequently occur. So, I think we must delegate some of our best talent to grapple with the problems of society for which our expertise is relevant, and we must all be prepared to maintain long and searching dialogues with those who seek to change our institutions through democratic means. We must engage in a meaningful dialogue not only with this new generation of students, but also with the society which supports our work. We must face our responsibilities, not only as the elders and teachers of students, but also as citizens of our communities, our country, and of the world.
What can one say to students who urge their professors to leave the quiet and solace of the research laboratory for the hurly-burly world of pressing practical problems and the debilitation which flows from confrontation and argumentation in the area of politics? In the first place, it must be clear that not all of us can easily shift from one role to the other, and so not all of us should be expected to. This, of course, may be construed by our critics as a convenient cloak behind which all of us can hide. But I hope that in the large community of world botanists, sufficient practitioners of the various aspects of their science will step forward to assume socially responsible roles as to gain social acceptability for the entire field. Our critics must be made to understand that it is extremely important that we not all leave our lab-oratories for the political and social battlefield. It has been said that a society that cares only about the present has no future. Some of those who remain in the laboratory conducting their apparently aimless researches, unrelated to the solution of any social problems, may, as we well know, be the most practical of all men. We need only recall the importance of Charles Darwin's researches on phototropism in the discovery of plant hormones and thus, indirectly, of herbicides. Had Darwin been in the employ of a chemical company that put him onto the job of developing a new herbicide, he might never have come up with anything new at all. In the same way B. O. Dodge and later G. W. Beadle and E. L. Tatum, investigating the life cycle and inheritance in the apparently useless red bread mold Neurospora, have probably contributed more to our knowledge of genetics, with its great potential for improving the lot of mankind, than platoons of some animal and plant breeders dedicated to the solution of practical problems. So, I think the
first thing we need to tell our young friends who are challenging us to climb down out of the ivory tower into the cobble-stone strewn streets is, "Fine, we will send you a delegation. But some will have to stay up here to keep the store running."
If we are going to send a delegation, clearly some criteria are required for the establishment of proper credentials for our representatives. In setting up these credentials I think we shall discover paradoxically that we will want to call on the older, rather than the younger, members of the profession, and thus perhaps those who feel least sensitively attuned to the demands of the young proponents of change. Clearly, if our representatives are to retain their credentials with the scientific community, and be able to influence the outside world as well, they must have demonstrated competence in their field for some extended period. Since ventures into the socio-political arena are somewhat distracting from scientific work, it is to be expected that such men would be, in a sense, diminishing their scientific productivity. Since, also, they will be venturing into areas in which opinions are frequently not decisive, and where opinions may impinge on political prejudices, it might be well for them to enjoy the security which academic tenure affords. All this says that our representatives should probably be mature, respected, scientifically productive and stably placed members of our profession.
What are some of the major and pressing problems for which the skills of the botanist are relevant tools? Certainly if the botanist can make any one special claim, it is that he understands the plant. Since "all flesh is as grass" it is at once clear that the ability of this earth to sustain human life stands in direct relation to its ability to grow sufficient plants, especially food crops, to satisfy the requirements of man. Heretofore, this has not been much of a worldwide problem. While it is true that in the preagricultural era, man's ability to increase his numbers was probably limited by his food supply, ever since the industrial revolution food has not been limiting to man's increase in numbers, at least not on a world scale.
Man is now reproducing at an absolutely catastrophic rate. There are now about three and a half billion humans on earth, increasing at about 1.8 per cent per annum, with a doubling time of about 38 years. This means that by the year 2000, there will be almost seven billion of us on this planet, and by that time we will probably be doubling our numbers every generation. How long can this go on? Guesses have been made and can continue to be made. There are, of course, some ridiculous outer limits. If we go on at this rate for about another three thousand years, then there will be about 1023 people on earth. Since this approximates Avogadro's number, we might say that at that time the earth will have become one molar with respect to people. If we allow one hundred pounds per person in such a crowded world, then the total weight of mankind on earth would exceed 1025 pounds, or just about the weight of the earth. At this point all of the lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere would have been converted into one representative of the biosphere, and the earth would have become a true monoculture!
What are the real limits to the human population on earth? Let us note first that with our present population of 3.5 billion people, and with technology intruding into agriculture in most parts of the world, we are still chronically short of food, even if one assumes adequate means of distribution from areas of surplus to areas of hunger. Even if we were able to double total world food production, our progress would be annulled in 38 years in the next round of world population doubling. Let us remember that doubling agricultural productivity is no easy task. It takes not only the work of the plant breeder to produce new high yielding genotypes, the plant pathologist to help us ward off diseases and predators, the agronomist to help us plan productivity rationally, the physiologist to develop new growth regulatory compounds and regimes, and the agricultural engineer to devise the apparatus required for rationalized production, it requires the raw materials as well. Plants cannot grow without such elemental requirements as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, and as we go to more and more submarginal lands for a greater productivity, successively higher and higher quantities of these materials are required. But, as we do that, we must also remember that we have by now exhausted the highest grades and easily available supplies of such materials as phosphate rocks. It now becomes necessary to go to second and third rate sources which require more and more energy and technology before they are fit for agricultural use. Thus, while I think it is realistic for us to say that we can certainly do much to improve overall productivity on the earth's surface, there are limits to what we can perform, limits imposed by the earth's resources. We foresee in the not too distant future, certainly within another century, the moment of truth after which our efforts will perhaps be to no further avail. Any rational program for linking food supply to expanding population must necessarily deal with problems of population regulation as well.
As botanists we can claim no special competence in human population dynamics, but because we can say authoritative things about the earth's capacity to produce foodstuffs to support mankind, what we say about population also has some relevance. I think we need to say clearly and in unmistakable terms that the earth's capacity to support mankind is not unlimited, that it is up to man to decide what kind of world he wants and then to so regulate the number of individuals permitted to come into that world that the kind of society which is considered most desirable can be brought about through the best workings of man's mind and hands. Our failure to take such a step will not prevent a decision from being made, but rather than being made rationally it will be imposed by the four horsemen of the apocalypse: hunger. disease, starvation and possibly war.
It is alleged by some prognosticators that because it is so much less efficient to produce animal foods such as beefsteak and eggs than plant foods, it may be necessary for us in the crowded world of the future to be largely vegetarian. This is a prospect which few of us can face with equanimity, and I would like to ask us to consider whether there may not be any other alternatives. For example, large acreages are now devoted to crops which are either not necessary, not beneficial to mankind, or easily supplantable by substitutes. One such crop is tobacco, whose high cash value causes it to be grown over many thousands of valuable acres in our own country as well as other parts of the world. Let us leave aside for a moment the question of the harmful effects of tobacco on health, which by now have been firmly established. Can we in all good conscience, in a crowded world hungering for more food, permit the use of many acres of potential food crop land for the production of a crop which yields absolutely no food value? In the years ahead we may need to make a decision on such questions. Botanists might therefore be well advised to consider possible substitution crops for the areas which might- be displaced from tobacco production, either because of its menace to public health or because it has become a luxury which man feels he cannot afford. Other crops with marginal food value for man, such as celery and lettuce, might have to go. Also rubber and fiber-producing plants may become marginal as synthetic substitutes become cheaper and better.
Not only must botanists be aware of the inefficient allocation of land for the production of the greatest quantity of food for the greatest number of hungry people, but they must also sense and be prepared to correct our inadequate planning for catastrophes which could strike us in the future. Historians of agriculture tell us that modern Western man has failed to introduce a single important new food crop.' Almost all of our staple cereals, vegetables, fiber plants, spices, and beverage plants are heritages from the native peoples whose lands were conquered by the invading Westerners. It is true that in the hands of modern Western man, the rather primitively cultivated, poorly yielding original genotypes have been much improved into the highly efficient photosynthetic machines of the present day. Yet, we must all be aware of the fact that our dependence on restricted genotypes of the major food plants of the world could contribute
to a catastrophe of astounding proportions. What, for example, if a new pathogen should arise for our highest producing strains of corn, or rice, or wheat? Would we have the resources to dip into new genotypes for the production of reasonably high yielding strains resistant to the new predator? In a world sensibly geared to meet the needs of people everywhere, much more extensive international genotype banks of the world's most import-ant crops should be maintained and fostered for diversity and hardiness to all known pathogens. Some such efforts are now conducted in various parts of the world by separate national, state and local governments as well as by universities, research institutes and private breeders. I believe that some organization such as the International Union of Biological Sciences should take official cognizance of this problem, and that an international body of scholars should plan and maintain such an ongoing effort.
Another area of public responsibility to which the botanist, among others, owes some responsibility is, of course, the preservation of the environment in which we all live. Of the immediate necessity for purifying the air which we breathe and the water which we drink, I will say little, since this topic has been well popularized in recent years and is beginning to receive official govern-mental attention. I would suggest, however, that we might lend ourselves to a revolutionary rededication to the ideal of a healthy, clean and beautiful environment in many small ways that do not require national campaigns for implementation. The concept of the world outside one's house and automobile as a huge garbage pail available for deposition of all of one's waste must be altered. It is estimated that each day, each American produces 5 Ibs. of garbage, a total for the U.S. alone of one billion pounds per day. To preserve the spaceship earth as a fir environment for life, we must become dedicated to orderly and complete disposal of these wastes, and to recycle many of them, through new technology, back into production.
One particularly insidious aspect of pollution of the environment is that which flows from man's desire to rationalize agricultural productivity by the use of ever increasing quantities of chemicals which are dumped, sprayed, or dusted onto land and plants. We have be-come so dependent upon such chemicals for our continued high level of agricultural productivity that to advocate a return to the hoe or tractor as the sole means of con-trolling weeds and other pests would be folly. But we should be aware that just as chlorinated hydrocarbons like DDT, dieldrin and aldrin are now regarded as public menaces because of their persistence in the biosphere and their potential poisoning of various kinds of creatures, so may some of our present highly regarded herbicides and plant growth regulators come to seem less desirable. Research in this important area must continue. New products must be constantly developed, and they must be adequately tested as to agricultural effectiveness, ready biodegradability, lack of ecological side effects, low persistence in harvested foods and non-toxicity of the quantities which do persist. Our current herbicidal chemicals may be likened to rather crude buckshot blasts; what we need are more precise weapons with a much more restricted range of damage.
One example of a highly successful, fairly specific, non-toxic and easily biodegradable herbicide is, of course, 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) and its relatives. Under normal conditions of agriculture, and under proper formulation, these herbicides may be applied in appropriate dose rates to achieve desired broad-spectrum selective herbicidal action. So far as we can now tell, this can be done without harmful side effects; the applied herbicide is completely degraded and largely converted, in fact, into microbial bodies, so that soil fertility is not disturbed.
Some of the other more recently introduced herbicides, while they have impressive toxicities and even desirable specificities under proper formulation, do not give one the same feeling of comfort concerning their lack of undesirable perpetuated effects. In fact, some of them may be potential herbicidal analogs of DDT. I suspect that one such compound is 4-amino, 3, 5, 6-trichloropicolinic acid, also referred to as picloram or Tordon. While this material certainly has impressive credentials as a herbicide, and can even be used to denude an area of conifers, which are insensitive to the halogenated phenoxyacetic acids, its persistence in soils is so great as to constitute a source of worry. Under optimal conditions in some soils, of the order of 20 to 50 per cent of applied Tordon disappeared after 467 days." However, on other soils, poor in inorganic matter, low in moisture, and low in aeration, only 3.3 per cent of the applied material disappeared in a similar period. Repeated application of such a material to productive crop lands could lead to the build-up of a dangerous titer of herbicidally active material, which could diminish growth in desirable as well as weedy plants. In view of the fact that no micro-organisms arc now known which can degrade Tordon as a sole carbon source, and in view of the fact that between 10,000 and 100,000 parts of exogenous carbon are required to oxidize one part of Tordon," it would appear important that the further introduction of this herbicide into agriculture be delayed until the problem of its persistence in soils can be further clarified. Similarly, atrazine, which has performed so well as a selective herbicide in corn fields, is currently causing some worry, since it appears to have produced a diminution of yield in soybeans rotated onto the same soil in subsequent years.
Under certain circumstances, even 2,4-D can become a menace. It has been reported that applications of 2,4-D can cause such a massive increase in the nitrate content of pasture plants as to sicken animals eating these plants.4 The toxicity presumably has to do with the fact that nitrate is reduced to nitrite in the tissue of the animal, and it is the latter compound which causes the symptoms of malaise. The safe use of 2,4-D also depends on proper environmental conditions surrounding its application. For example, if much of the applied material is carried off into streams which find their way into quiet lakes, then 2,4-D may persist in the cool relatively anaerobic environment of the bottom muds where the aerobic bacteria that degrade it cannot prosper. Whether such an accumulation could cause eventual alteration of the algal components of the lake is unknown. We do know that 2,4-D can affect the vigor of Daphnia and other lake animals which serve as food for fish.5
It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that no herbicide is without its dangers to the ecology, and must be used under carefully regulated conditions.
Some currently used pesticides are fabricated around heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, or around elements such as arsenic, which although relatively benign in one valence state (+5) may become very toxic if reduced (+3 valence state). The important difference between such pesticides and the completely organic ones is that there is no way to achieve complete detoxification after application. The metal remains, no matter to what form it is converted after metabolism by plant, soil or animal. Once deposited in the biosphere it may persist for longer than we would like to admit. We should note, in this connection, the growing concern in public health circles over the rising quantities of lead and mercury in the environment surrounding man.
What I propose to discuss in closing involves a some-what more difficult problem. It is the deliberate application of botanical knowledge for destructive, rather than constructive ends; for the production of barren areas, devoid of vegetation, rather than rich, green rolling fields; for the destruction of food crops, rather than their enhanced growth; for the desecration of a natural environment, rather than its preservation. This misapplication of botany for destructive ends is a relatively new phenomenon. Not so long ago to be a botanist was to be assured of being included in the ranks of those whose works could only benefit mankind. The botanist worked for the discovery of new plant resources useful to man. He selected the most desirable varieties of such materials, and by careful breeding brought them into commercial production. He studied their growth, rationalized their agriculture, devised useful chemicals to control their growth, and to ward off predators. All these activities could only improve man's estate. With knowledge, how-ever, comes power, and with power conies the ability to control events in destructive as well as constructive ways. Society must continually be on its guard against the misapplication of science. For our normal peace time activities we have many safeguards built into the legal structure to protect us against the wrongdoer. In war, when- there is a breakdown in the fabric of law, harmful practices which have been banned may suddenly emerge to be used against the enemy as a potent weapon of war. It is unfortunate, I believe, that herbicides which have done so much to improve man's productivity have recently been used in a massive way to create ecological havoc.
In the years since 1962, we have dumped more than one hundred million pounds of herbicides into Vietnam ro defoliate the jungles, to prevent ambush along roads and waterways, to foil build-up and infiltration by the Vietcong and their allies, and to deprive outlying communities of the food which they derive from cultivated rice patches. The chemicals used in this operation have been largely herbicides which are in use all over the Western world in peacetime agriculture. These include 2,4-D and its relative 2,4,5-T, picloram, about which we have spoken earlier, and the arsenical cacodylic acid, which has been used exclusively to kill rice, elephant grass, and other materials largely insensitive to the halo-
genated phenoxyacetic acids. The use of these materials has conferred upon the United States forces certain military advantages. The removal of dense cover from around encampments and along roads and rivers has certainly spared American lives. As such, it must be adjudged a successful military weapon. Yet some aspects of our use of herbicidal chemicals as instruments of war in Vietnam have been unwise, and could react in the future to the disadvantage of the United States.
Many militarily useful weapons are not employed in warfare, either because of the sense of abhorrence that their use produces or because of fear that retaliation in kind might do the initial user more harm than good. Thus; for example, we have not used even small tactical nuclear weapons in Vietnam because of the suspicion that the introduction of this new quantum jump in destructiveness would bring us that much closer to a possible confrontation with other nuclear powers such as the Soviet Union. Like nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons have seen scattered use in warfare. Biolo,gicaI weapons are said to have been used by Lord Jeffrey Amherst who, in the French and Indian wars, distributed amongst the Indians blankets which had been previously used for smallpox patients.'' The resulting smallpox epidemic is said to have been severe and of military advantage to the British. But that was more than two hundred years ago, and there are happily no authenticated reports of the use of biological weapons since then. Chemical weapons have seen greater use. In World War I, chlorine, phosgene and mustard gas took more than a hundred thousand lives, and maimed many others. In the Yemen, poison gas was apparently used by the Egyptians on behalf of their allies the Yemeni Republicans against the Yemeni Royalists as recently as 1963.' In Vietnam in addition to chemical warfare against plants we have used more than 14 million pounds of so called riot control gases, especially CS (ortho chlorobenzalmalononitrile) against personnel.' The Geneva Protocol of 1925, which was drafted by the United States, signed by the United States, but never ratified by the U.S. Senate, prohibits the use in warfare "of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and all analogous liquids, materials or devices." While we never became party .to the Geneva Protocol of 1925, President Roosevelt, in a statement dated June 12, 1943, stated categorically that "We shall under no circumstances resort to the use of such weapons unless they are first used by our enemies." On December 5, 1966, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution calling for strict observance by all states of the principles and objectives of the Protocol signed in Geneva in 1925. While resolutions of the General Assembly are normally not binding as such on member states, they do provide clear evidence of the state of the law. This UN resolution was passed unanimously, with only three abstentions, from Cuba, France and Gabon. Thus, the United Nations resolution of 1966, to which we are a party, declares that the Geneva Protocol today constitutes general international law, and is no longer a mere contract for the actual parties to it. It extends both to chemical and bacteriological warfare. The question then arises, whether in the eyes of the world, the United States by its use of chemical weapons in Vietnam has contravened these limitations. Our United Nations Ambassador Nabrit specifically stated his views to the contrary as follows:9
The Geneva Protocol of 1925 prohibits the use in war of asphyxiating and poisonous gas and other similar gases and liquids with equally deadly effects. It was framed to meet the horrors of poison-gas warfare in the First World War and was intended to reduce suffering by prohibiting the use of poisonous gases such as mustard gas and phosgene. It does not apply to all gases. It would be unreasonable to contend that any rule of international law prohibits the use in combat against an enemy, for humanitarian purposes, of agents that Governments around the world commonly use to control riots by their own people. Similarly, the protocol does not apply to herbicides, which involve the same chemicals and have the same effects as those used domestically in the United States; and the Soviet Union and many other countries to control weeds and other unwanted vegetation.
Professor Ian Brownlie of Wadham College, Oxford University, states10 "Practices which must result in depriving peasant communities permanently of their food resources constitute a crime against humanity, and if persisted in, when large scale distress is manifest, would amount to genocide. Large scale destruction of the fertility of the countryside is an operation which is probably more strikingly indiscriminate as between combatants and noncombatants than any technique other than resort to nuclear weapons. . . . Large scale crop destruction must fall foul of these rules, especially when it is carried out from the air."
The U.S. Field manual (USFM 27.10.1949, paragraph 24, and 1956, paragraphs 40 and 41) is very precise on this point. It states that destruction of food crops and food supplies is prohibited unless it can be shown that these are for the use of enemy combatant personnel. The U.S. has said repeatedly that intended victims of its food destruction campaign are male, combatant personnel in isolation from the community, and that civilians are warned in advance, and told where to go. According to Donald Hornig, President Johnson's Science Advisor, the real purpose of the anti-crop program was directed at moving the population out of the NLF controlled areas into those controlled by the Saigon regime. If this is true, and it appears to be borne out by a survey of de-foliated areas, it puts quite a different perspective on the entire operation. Crop destruction has been most marked not in the sparsely occupied areas where the effect would be largely confined to the NLF guerrillas, but in the densely populated fertile Mekong delta, the rice bowl of Southeast Asia.S1
What, in fact, are the ecological consequences of the widespread massive application of herbicides? With respect to Vietnam, it should be noticed that in 1968 approximately a million and a half acres of forested land and a quarter of a million acres of crop land were sprayed with an average of about three gallons per acre (or ca 27 lbs./acre) of chemical. This means that almost fifty mil-lion pounds of assorted herbicides were dumped on the countryside in that one year. Most of this was in the form of the phenoxyacetic acids; some was in the form of picloram; some, probably about three quarters of a million pounds, in the form of cacodylic acid.
It is frequently alleged that a single spray with a defoliating chemical, such as 2,4-D or 2,4,5-T, produces no permanent damage to a forested area. This, it seems
to me, is a pious hope in view of the paucity of hard data available and recent observations on mangrove associations indicate extensive kill after one spray.a•ts Certainly no experiments have been done previously in Vietnam with its particular collection of plants, soil and climate, and often-cited studies done in the Philippines and in Puerto Rico are relevant but not exactly transferable." Defoliation at the very least promotes the growth of understory vegetation such as bamboo, which may then gain a competitive advantage. It may also temporarily deprive soil microflora of photosynthate, which comes to it in the form of organic matter excreted through the roots. This deficient microbial action may not be serious but if extended by repeated defoliation operations may lead to significant loss of productivity, and may also result in soil erosion. Permanent denudation of an area by repeated spraying can, of course, lead to more serious consequences, such as the complete transformation of the forest to a bamboo thicket, and possible larerization of lateritic soils. It is estimated in a UNESCO report that more than half of the soils of Vietnam are laterizable.14 Although it is widely supposed that 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T are non-toxic, they may be washed into the anaerobic rice paddy bottoms, and may there do, harm to vegetation, crustaceans, and possibly fish which are raised as a byproduct. We have already spoken about the possible long term effects of picloram. With regard to cacodylic acid, whose lethal dose in mice is one gram per kilogram of weight, it can only be said that trans-formation of this material to the more toxic methylarsonic acid, or to some trivalent form of arsenic, is not excluded in the cycle of nature, and the indiscriminate clumping of large quantities of this material over the Vietnamese countryside is in no way to be considered a beneficial exercise. When one adds to this the dangers of the opening of the Pandora's box of CBW, and the possible indiscriminate damage done to children, pregnant and lactating women, and the aged and the infirm of the civilian population by our food deprivation program, then I think the picture is one with which most Americans will not feel particularly happy.
We must hope that such chemical warfare, committed in the name of the American people, will never again - be employed. All American citizens, and scientists and botanists in particular, need to concern themselves with a practice that, in the eyes of some, is outside accepted international law. One constructive move at the present time would be to aid and support a House Joint Resolution No. 691, proposed by Representatives Edward Koch and Richard D. McCarthy of New York State, which calls for the setting up of an International Commission for investigation of the ecological damage caused by the widespread use of herbicides in Vietnam. The same two Congressmen (House Joint Resolution 457) are also pro-posing that we ratify the Geneva Protocol of 1925. Even at this late date, such a move would be in the public interest, and in the waning days of the Vietnam war, might actually spur our disengagement from that area and promote other arms control measures which we are currently negotiating with the Russians.
In closing, let me make the following suggestions. I believe in the collective wisdom of the people of a democracy to decide important matters concerning their own fate. The American public has been deprived, by the Department of Defense, of information concerning our CB\V operations in Vietnam. Only muck-raking and reportorial snooping activities have caused them to come to light recently. We should demand that the books on CBW be opened as completely as is consonant with the national security. We should learn where the annual CBW allocation of one third of a billion dollars goes. We should learn how, out of this figure, seventy-one million dollars in herbicidal chemicals were used. We should have clear statements on the responsibility for the death of the thousands of sheep in Dugway, the stockpiling of nerve gases overseas and the disposition of overaged chemical munitions. We should have clear discussions of the desirability of the continued production of nerve gases, botulinus toxin, and other CBW weapons.
President Nixon has moved encouragingly in the last months by announcing a high level review of all CBW operations.° The U.N. has recently released a report pointing out the need for a ban on all such weapons,'E and Great Britain has recommended a total ban on the manufacture and use of biological weapons.'' A senate committee has recently seen fit to delete from the budget all funds for offensive CBW weapons." The move to ratify the Geneva Protocol is being pushed in some ad-ministration quarters. I believe that we botanists, as citizens of our country, and citizens of the world, must get ourselves involved with these important questions. I do not ask that our Societies endorse any particular piece of legislation, or any particular proposal, but I do believe that discussion of these matters at annual meetings, at business meetings, and at International Conventions is entirely essential as a prelude to individual action. To do less is to fail in our responsibility as socially concerned scientists and citizens.
Part 1. Scientific Research. June 9, 1969, pp. 22-30.
Part 2. Scientific Research. June 23, 1969, pp. 26-30.
Note added in proof:
Recent evidence indicates that 2,4,5-T is teratogenic, at least in mice and rats (Report of the Secretary's Commission on Pesticides, and Their Relationship to Environmental Health, Parts I and II, U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, December 1969, Chapter 8). The toxicity may possibly be due to an impurity of the dioxin type (FDA fact sheet on 2,4.5-T, 1970). The entire situation is well reviewed in "Chemical-Biological War-fare; U.S. Policies and International Effects," hearings be-fore the Sub-Committee on National Security Policy and Scientific Developments of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, November-December 1969.
NOTES FROM THE EDITOR
Article III of the By-Laws of the Botanical Society provides that the terms of office of the Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Botany and the Editor of the Plant Science Bulletin shall be five years. Dr. Heimsch completed his five-year term this past year, and Dr. Norman Boke, as most of you know, is the new Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Botany. This present year is my fifth and last as editor of the Bulletin. Article IV of the By-Laws, as published in the 1967-1968 Yearbook of the Botanical Society, reads in part, "To fill each vacancy . . . the President shall appoint a Committee consisting of the incumbent Editor-in-Chief as chairman and two other members." The candidate selected by this committee must then be confirmed by the Executive Committee of the Council. This section was somehow deleted from the By-Laws published in the 1969-1970 Yearbook, but on the assumption that this, whether still "official," is a reasonable procedure, I shall be happy to receive any nominations you may wish to suggest, and shall refer them to the pertinent committee or council.
While the paragraph above was in galley proof I received notification from President Lincoln Constance of the appointment of the following members to serve as the nominating committee: William L. Stern, University of Maryland, William T. Jackson, Dartmouth College, and Adolph Hecht (chairman), Washington State University.
NEWS AND NOTES
Darbaker Prize in Phycology for 1970
The committee on the Darbaker Prize of the Botanical Society of America will accept nominations for an award to be announced at the annual meeting of the Society at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, in 1970. Under
the terms of the bequest, the award is to be made for meritorious work in the study of microscopical algae. The committee will base its judgment primarily on the papers published by the nominee during the last two full calendar years previous to the closing date for nominations. At present, the award will. be limited to residents of North America. Only papers published in the English language will be considered. The value of the Prize for 1970 will depend on the income from the trust fund but is expected to be about $250. Nominations for the 1970 award accompanied by a statement of the merits of the case and by reprints of the publications supporting the candidacy must be received by June 1, 1970, by the Chairman of the Committee, Dr. H. C. Bold, Department of Botany, University of Texas, Austin, Texas, 78712.
1970 Pre-Convention Conference
A pre-convention conference on "Regulation in Plants: The Plant Hormones and Their Mechanisms of Action," is being sponsored by the Committee on Education, Botanical Society of America and the Office of Biological Education, AIBS. This conference, scheduled to be held in conjunction with the AIBS Meetings at Indiana University, August 22, 23, 1970, is for college teachers, and designed to present the current state of knowledge of the topic under consideration. Where possible, suggestions for supportive laboratory study in the classroom and demonstrations will be presented. Committee for this conference is: W. F. Millington, Chairman, Helena Miller and A. W. Ruesink. Registration forms will be available in BioScience. The program is as follows:
First Day—August 22nd
8:00 Late Registration.
Dr. Peter Ray, Stanford University Lecture, questions and discussion. Coffee Break
Dr. J. Eugene Fox, University of Kansas. Lecture, questions and discussion. Lunch
1:15- 3:00 Gibberellins and Abscissic Acid. Dr. Hans Kende, MSU/AEC Plant Research Lab
Michigan State University.
Lecture, questions and discussion. Coffee Break
3:15- 4:45 Ethylene.
Dr. Stanley Burg, University of Miami. Lecture, questions and discussion.
Second Day—August 23rd
8:30-10:C0 Hormones in Fungi and Algae.
Dr. Alma Barksdale, New York Botanic Garden.
Lecture, questions and discussion.
10:30 Hormonal Regulation in Plants.
Dr. Anton Lang, Director, MSU/AEC Plant Research Lab
Michigan State University.
Rocky Mountain National Park Seminars
The ninth season of the Rocky Mountain National Park Seminars will begin on June 22, 1970. Courses of study offered include Mountain Geology, Mountain Ecology, Alpine Ecology, Bird Ecology, Animal Ecology, Plant Identification, Advanced Plant Identification, and an Ecological Conservation Workshop. The workshop will be held July 27 through August 8 and will conclude the 1970 session.
Professors will be Dr. Robert B. Johnson, professor of geology and department chairman at Colorado State University, Fort Collins; Dr. Paul D. Kilburn, associate professor of biology at Principia College, Elsah, Illinois; Dr. Gustav A. Swanson, Head of the Department of Fishery and Wildlife Biology, Colorado State University; Dr. John C. Wanamaker, professor of biology at Principia College; Dr. Joseph L. Weitz, professor of geology at Colorado State University; and Dr. Beatrice E. Willard, ecologist and Vice President of Thorne Ecological Foundation, Boulder, Colorado.
The seminars are held in Rocky Mountain National Park, and consist primarily of field trips in the Park—an area "designed" for study of ecology. Laboratory work and lectures are also included. Accommodations are avail-able in Estes Park; Rocky Mountain National Park has several campgrounds. It is possible to receive credit for the seminars from the University of Colorado Extension Division if desired. Anyone wishing further information is asked to write Tom C. Thomas, Executive Secretary, Rocky Mountain Nature Association, Estes Park, Colorado 80517.
These seminars are sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Nature Association in cooperation with the Colorado State Department of Education, Estes Park Chamber of Commerce, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, National Park Service, Thorne Ecological Foundation, and University of Colorado Extension Division.
1970 Summer Session at The University of Oklahoma Biological Station, Lake Texoma
The curriculum in botany will be as follows:
Agrostology Dr. Ron Tyrl
Oregon State University Corvallis, Oregon 97331 Paleobotany Dr. Ron Segal
Southwestern State College Weatherford, Oklahoma 73096
Phycology Dr. Harold Schlichting North Texas State University
Denton, Texas 76203 Taxonomy of Dr. James Hardin
Vascular Plants North Carolina A &T State University
Greensboro, North Carolina 27411
Applications for admission and financial assistance may be obtained from:
Dr. Paul G. Risser
Department of Botany and Microbiology
The University of Oklahoma 770 Van Vleet Oval, Room 134 Norman, Oklahoma 73069
Annual Alpine Flower Tours on Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range, New Hampshire
The annual alpine flower tours of the Appalachian Mountain Club will be conducted at Mizpah Spring Hut June 13-14, 1970; at the Lake of the Clouds Hut June 16-19 and at Madison Spring Hut June 19-23. While conducted for the climbing public these tours offer an excellent opportunity to see the unique alpine flora of the region at its peak of flowering. A botanist and a geologist act as guides. Further details and information about housing may be obtained by writing to the Appalachian Mountain Club, Pinkham Notch Camp, Gorham, New Hampshire 03581.
Harvard geneticist Matthew S. Meselson, appointed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to plan a study of the effects of defoliants and herbicides used in South Vietnam, has named Dr. Arthur H. Westing to be director of the project. Westing is Associate Professor of Botany and Chairman of the Department of Biology at Windham College, Putney, Vermont. He holds a Master's degree in forestry and a Ph.D. in plant physiology, both from Yale University. Dr. Westing has done field research with the United States Forest Service on the effects of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, herbicides that have been used massively as defoliants in Vietnam. Recently he returned from Cambodia, where he took part in an investigation of herbicide damage to rubber plantations and crops. Westing will coordinate the work of specialists in several scientific fields in order to prepare a detailed operational plan to investigate the effects of these chemicals on the long-term ecology and on human welfare in Vietnam.
Annual Dinner for All Botanists
The Annual Dinner for All Botanists was held in the Main Ballroom of the Student Union Building on the campus of the University of Washington, Seattle, Wednesday, August 27, 1969. President Harlan Banks presided at the head table at which were seated the officers of the Society. The Ballroom was filled to capacity with 512 members and guests; numerous requests for tickets had to go unfilled. In an effort to give an international flavor to the Dinner which was being held during the XIth International Botanical Congress, the Society was privileged to have as its guests at the Dinner many distinguished foreign botanists.
President Banks introduced the first of these distinguished guests which were Corresponding Members of the Botanical Society: Professor Hans G. Burstrom (Sweden), Professor David G. Catcheside (Australia), Professor Jean Feldmann (France), Dr. Albert F. Frey-Wyssling (Switzerland), Professor Roger Jean Gautheret (France), Professor Hiroshi Hara (Japan), Professor Eric G. Hulten (Sweden), Dr. Hiroshi Kihara ( Japan), and Dr. C. R. Metcalfe (Great Britain). President Banks also pointed out that he had received from most of the other 26 Corresponding Members expressions of regret that they were unable to come to the Congress and the Dinner.
A second group of distinguished botanists was then
presented to the assemblage. President Banks noted that in honor of the occasion of the International Botanical Congress the membership of the Society at the annual business meeting held on the preceding Monday had elected to Corresponding Membership eight foreign botanists preeminent in various fields of plant sciences. Five of these botanists were present at the Dinner and each was called to the podium to stand while the President read a citation of his accomplishments:
Joji Ashida, Professor Emeritus of Botany, Kyoto University, Japan
Keen student of leaf movements in Aldravanda, leader of a group studying the inhibitory action of copper on yeasts and of adaptive changes in yeast and fungi to metal toxicants, founding father of the Japanese Society of Plant Physiologists and of its distinguished journal, Plant & Cell Ph}siology, able teacher and former Dean of Students at Kyoto University.
Roger Buvat, Professor of Plant Cytology, University of Marseilles, France
For many years Professor Buvat has studied the processes of differentiation and dedifferentiation of plant cells. His cytological descriptions of apical and subadjacent cells of the shoot meristem have led to new concepts of organization of the stem apex and have defined the roles of subapical cells in leaf organization. His recent studies with the electron microscope have clarified the structure and role of the dictyosome, the endoplasmic reticulum and the plasmalemma of plant cells.
Mikhail Khristoforovich Chailakhian, Professor and Head of Laboratory for Growth and Development, Timiriazev Institute of Plant Physiology of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Moscow
Professor Chailakhian more than 30 years ago clearly enunciated the concept of a flowering hormone in plants and by ingenious grafting experiments placed the concept on a firm experimental basis. More recently he has recognized the importance of gibberellins in flower formation and growth regulation in higher plants, especially in connection with nucleic acid metabolism. His wide ranging interests led him to formulate original and interesting contributions to the study of polarity and regeneration in plants and to maintain clear and logically feasible concepts of the nature of genetic processes.
Richard Eric Holttum, Director-Emeritus of the Singapore Botanical Gardens and active researcher at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England
Dr. Holttum is a world renowned taxonomist and Dean of living pteridologists. He has made many revisionary studies of fern genera, has stabilized fern nomenclature and has contributed extensively to fern phylogeny and ecology. His books on "Plant Life in Malaya," "The Bamboos of the Malay Peninsula," and especially "Orchids of Malaya" have had very broad influence.
Hans Adolf von Stosch, Professor of the University of Marburg, Germany
Von Stosch and his students have made important contributions to the culture and nutrition of numerous diatoms, flagellates and higher algae, both marine and freshwater. These investigations have frequently led to incisive inquiry into details of life cycles and cytologic, genetic, developmental, physiological and ecological questions. All have been ably investigated and have greatly enriched our understanding of the biology of the lower plant forms.
Three newly elected members were not present at the Congress, but the President read the following citations to the gathering:
Runar Collander, Professor Emeritus of Botany at the University of Helsinki, Finland
Professor Collander's work on the penetration of solutes into plant cells is classic and is cited everywhere. The data gathered by Collander and his associates furnished the main basis for the theory that penetration is frequently correlated with liquid solubility. This concept, in turn, has played an important role in the formulation of modern structures for the differentially permeable cell membrane.
Pierre Martens, Professor Emeritus at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium
Professor Martens is well known for his numerous cytological and morphological investigations and for his founding of the journal La Cc/lute. His wide ranging interests have led him to studies on division of erratic chromosomes, intercellular spaces, plasma membranes, life cycles and sexuality of fungi, the cytology of ferns and most recently, the morphology of the Gnetales. In his spare time he has written a successful textbook of general botany and has contributed also to the fields of floral biology, paleobotany and evolution.
Wilhelm Troll, Professor Emeritus at the University of Mainz, Germany
Professor Troll together with his students has undertaken the herculean task of recording, analyzing and interpreting the great diversity of vascular plant forms and the principles and mechanisms responsible for this diversity. His "Vergleichende Morphologie der hoheren Pflanzen" is a masterful summary which stands as a hallmark of modern botanical literature. Not only do these works stamp him as the foremost plant morphologist of this day, but his investigations of the physiological ecology of mangroves and of alpine plant geography show him to be a man of unusual scope as well.
The Xlth International Botanical Congress was rep-resented by its President, Dr. Kenneth Thimann, who is a Past-President of the Botanical Society of America, Dr. George Fischer, Executive Director of the Congress, and Dr. Frans Stafleu, Rapporteur General of the Nomenclature Section of the International Botanical Congress. In addition all 39 Honorary Vice-Presidents of the Congress had been invited. Thirty-two of the Vice Presidents were able to be present:
Prof. Joji Ashida (Japan), Dr. A. A. Bitancourt (Brasil), Dr. Arturo E. Burkhart (Argentina), Prof. Hans G. Burstrom (Sweden), Prof. David G. Catchesicle (Australia), Dr. M. Kh. Chailakhian (USSR), Dr. Pierre Chouard (France), Dr. Jens C. Clausen (U.S.), Dr. Ralph E. Cleland (U.S.), Dr. John N. Couch (U.S.), Dr. Gunnar Erdtman (Sweden), Dr. Katherin Esau (U.S.), Dr. Knut Faegri (Norway), Dr. An. A. Fedorov (USSR), Prof. Albert F. Frey-Wyssling (Switzer-land), Dr. Roger-Jean Gautheret (France), Prof. Hiroshi Hara (Japan), Prof. J. G. F. Mcichers (Germany), Dr. Charles it. Metcalfe (England), Dr. Kurt Mothes (Germany), Dr. Philip A. Munz (U.S.), Prof 'I'. S. Sadasivan (India), Dr. A. L. Takhtajan (USSR), Sir George Taylor (England), Prof. Wm. Randolph Taylor (U.S.), Dr. M. J. Thirumalachar (India), Dr. N. V. Tsitsin (USSR), Dr. R. de Vilmorin (France), Dr. John C. Walker (U.S.), Prot. R. H. Wetmore (U.S.), Dr. J. Lanjouw (Netherlands), Dr. Tobias Lasser (Venezuela).
Following the address of Past-President Gaiston, President Banks introduced Professor Roger Jean Gautheret of Paris who read the following statement on behalf of the Corresponding Members who were invited guests of the Dinner:
"My Dear Colleagues:
I want to tell you a few personal memories about your Society.
When I began my work on tissue culture in 1931 the literature on this subject was very poor. The principal papers were those of Robbins in the American Journal of Botany. And, my eldest contact with your Society was the reading of the results of this pioneer.
Later your journal played an important role in the early establishment of tissue culture. As a matter of fact, it has published the more important papers of WHITE, HILDEBRANT, RIKER, BAIL and later of the many American botanists who contributed to the development of this subject.
This is the past. For the present all chapters of science are so gigantic that even their founders are no longer capable to cover them completely. May I give a personal example. When I began my work I had to know less than 30 papers. And now the field of tissue culture has produced more than 5,000 publications. Perhaps this does nor prepare some failure but it weakens certainly the pleasure of research. Therefore, it is essential that the old Societies preserve a good balance between the new and the traditional aspects of science.
When reading the American Journal of Botany I find wonderful that orientation towards the newest ways of biology, such as molecular biology, has not suppressed the part reserved to classical aspects of morphology and physiology.
Ir is very satisfactory to remark that the Botanical Society of America respects its best traditions and this is one of the reasons which makes me proud to be a corresponding member of your Society. I hope that young people will maintain your excellent traditions."
President Banks noted that time did nor permit introduction of all the many invited guests at the Dinner, but in order to facilitate the membership's meeting the guests, identifying badges had been supplied each guest. Following the Dinner the lounges in the Student Union were open for an informal reception at which it was possible for many regular members to make the acquaintance of the Distinguished Guests.
ALTMAN, PHII.IP L., AND DOROTHY S. DITTMER (Compilers and Editors). Metabolism. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Bethesda, Maryland, 1968. 737 pp. 520.00.
This latest addition to the series of FASEB Biological Handbooks should be the most useful of all to date, particularly to specialists in human or animal metabolism.
The handbook reflects the much greater research activity and completeness of information in animal metabolism than in plant metabolism. Only 2 of the 9 chapters deal exclusively with plants (and these mainly with the lower forms), while 5 chapters are concerned entirely or mainly with animals. The remaining 2 chapters (on nutrients and metabolic pathways) deal with organisms generally, or with either animals or plants as appropriate. Plant scientists will be disappointed with the scanty attention given the Bryophyta and Tracheophyta.
Generally, at least in areas familiar to the reviewer, a patent effort has been made to present up-to-date information in all fields of currently active research, in addition to the assembling of older data which will continue to be useful.
The handbook is exceptionally well indexed, and is especially noteworthy among biological handbooks in the completeness of its inclusion of plant and animal names. The handbook will have even greater utility because of the appendixes, in which there are separate listings of plants and animals, both by scientific name with corresponding common name, and the converse.
Howard P. Brewer
Foi.EY, DANIEL. J. The Flowering World of "Chinese" Wilson. The Macmillan Company, New York, 1969. xv+334 pp. $6.95.
The author, a former editor of Horticulture Magazine, has written a foreword, an introduction and two chapters, one being a short biography of Wilson, the other an annotated listing of the plants that Wilson had introduced. The remaining 25 chapters are a selection of E. H. Wilson's published writings. Approximately one-half of these are reprintings of chapters from Wilson's Plant Hunting. published in 1927. The other chapters are from Wilson's Aristocrats of the Garden (1926), More Aristocrats of the Garden (1928), Aristocrats of the Trees (1930), and If I Were To Make a Garden (1931). Most of the 31 pages of photographic illustrations are not from Wilson's own publications, but illustrate plants introduced by him or ones that he had written about. An early formal photo-graph of Wilson and his wedding picture are also included. To one who was fascinated by Plant Hunting, the present volume also provided delightful reading.
JANICK, J., R. W. SCHERY, F. W. WOODS AND V. W. RUTTAN. Plant Science—An Introduction to World Crops, W. H. Freeman and Co., San Francisco, 1969. 629 pp. 512.00.
In an-age increasingly dedicated to "relevance" and "immediacy" in all matters of education and politics, it seems that a good case can be made against most departments of Botany, and also departments of Biology (with the exception, of course, of those at Yale and Cal Tech—see P.S.B. 15 (3) :6-7! ), as regards the relevance of whatever plant material might be mentioned in their general or introductory courses. Or perhaps the botanical material presented is indeed relevant, but presented in such a way as to obscure the relevance from the student, who is most likely not a science or biology major. Such students may memorize enough specific, often isolated, derail in the form of plant names, biome types, citric acid cycles, amino acid sequences, etc., etc., to pass the necessary examinations. However, these students graduate from some of our finest schools and—from personal communication—I know their botanical background is such that they cannot effectively read a common seed catalog and do not know
enough applied botany to grow their own grass (sensu stricto! ) .
On the other hand, it is amazing how much "pure" botany can be taught effectively when it is given as a part of, and in relation to, some useful or pertinent bit of botanical information. The new Plant Science book by Janick, Schery, Woods and Ruttan takes just such an approach. Here genetics is taught under crop improvement where it has meaning; ecology and some aspects of plant physiology are covered under crop nutrition and crop environment; while other aspects of physiology, structure and development are profitably associated with reproduction and propagation. An acquaintance is made with many families of plants which come into relatively sharp academic focus not through a rote study of some phylogenetic system of classification (so dear to the hearts of all taxonomists! ), but through repeated contact with the family name, and certain characteristics, in relation to products of interest or value to the beginning student.
The book is put out as one of a series in Agricultural Science and I am sure it will serve its purpose well in this field. Since Parts I, V and VI, comprising some 325 pages, are essentially "Economic Botany" as it is often taught in a liberal arts curriculum, the book may be useful to some, as I believe it will to me, in this context. How-ever, I expect the primary value of the book lies in its role as a prototype, if used properly, in bringing meaning and interest to the introductory study of plants, and plant materials, as organisms relevant to our current culture.
C. Ritchie Bell
HOFF, C. C. AND M. L. RIEDESEL, Editors. Physiological Systems in Semiarid Environments. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 1969. 293 pp. $9.00.
This book consists of a series of papers presented during a seminar of the same title at the University of New Mexico in November, 1967. The book as a whole can only be of minor usefulness to the botanist as only about a third of the book concerns plants. Furthermore, of the ten papers dealing with plants, two are only abstracts, and two other papers, despite their interesting ecologic content, do not seem to pertain strongly to the subject of "physiologic systems." These are the papers by J. S. Williams and R. E. Boche which describe some vegetational gradients and a mathematical model for predicting plant growth from environmental data, respectively.
Of the remaining six papers, the discussion of W. L. Ehfler concerning a stomatal action in a succulent plant, Agave americana, contains little new information. J. J. Riley's paper on the physiologic responses of plants to salinity seems to have only limited usefulness since his conclusions were largely based upon work with red kidney bean; his approach, however, might prove useful in future researches.
The papers by F. W. Went, H. J. Dittmer, I. Mc-Nulty, and L. G. Klikoff seem well worth reading. Went's discussion of autoinhibition and the possible lack of plant competition among desert plants is particularly provocative, although I would strongly question statements like ". . . the laws of classical mechanics rather than of thermodynamics hold" when considering water movement in the soil-plant system. Dittmer also presents an interesting discussion of the role of roots in drought adaptation, while McNulty's conclusions of salt effects on "succulence" and the resulting effects on gas exchange for respiration and photosynthesis should certainly be considered in future investigations of the ecology of saline situations. The Klikoff paper dealing with ecoclinal and ecotypic differences in mitochondrial oxidative rates suggests a strong correlation between the temperature conditions of a population and its subcellular activity. I think this paper is especially noteworthy for its ability to relate molecular phenomena to questions at the population-community level.
Unfortunately the book as a whole is disappointing in indicating what is known or has been done with plant adaptation mechanisms in plants to semiarid conditions. Nonetheless, some worthwhile channels for future investigations seem to be suggested in this book.
George G. Spomer
LYMAN BENSON. The Cacti of Arizona. Third Edition. xiv + 218 pages, 110 figures, 17 color plates, 41 maps. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 1969. $6.95.
LYMAN BENSON. The Native Cacti of California. xii + 243 pages, 72 figures, 16 color plates, 23 maps. Stan-ford University Press, Stanford, 1969. $7.95.
These two books are by-products of a larger study, all but completed, on the cacti of the United States and Canada. That will be technical, but these are addressed to the broadest range of readers: they go far enough for most botanists but take pains to start at the very beginning.
The introduction to each book covers not only the structure, classification, naming, and identification of cacti but also the floras and vegetation types of the state and the occurrence of the cacti in these vegetation types. Keys to genera and species are full and detailed, description concise (with measurements in feet, inches, and awkward fractions), and synonymies complete, with type localities but without references. All documented localities in the state are shown on the maps. When the species includes three or more varieties, these are compared in a table.
All Californian and most Arizonan species are illustrated, though several varieties are not. Photographs, drawings, and paintings are mostly good to excellent and are more numerous than the statistics above imply. The 16 color plates in the California book, for example, include 20 paintings, some with several parts, and 42 photographs.
Though nearly parallel in organization, the two books differ in format, in illustrations (with very few in common), and in wording not only of discussions but even, to some extent, of keys and descriptions. The California book has a much fuller discussion of the floras, touching also on their geologic history, and has sections on world climatic zones, early studies of California cacti, and people
who have contributed to the study of these plants. The Arizona book includes new taxa and new combinations and a short section on how to grow the plants.
The cacti are a difficult group, poorly represented in herbaria, the specimens often hard to interpret. At both generic and specific levels, recent authors have subdivided them very finely—till "cactusization" has almost become the word for excessive subdivision. Dr. Benson in his early work, on the contrary, took a most conservative position on genera, accepting a minimum until he could study them closely enough to subdivide on a sound basis. In the first edition of the Arizona book, he accepted five; but now, after 30 years' more study, he accepts eleven. Only the Cereae are still treated conservatively, the six species of Arizona and California (and presumably all others of the United States) kept in the one genus Cereus. Since this group has only a few outlying species in the United States, the solution of the generic problems would require extensive study of numerous Latin American species; and this he has not undertaken.
The Arizona book includes 68 species and 55 additional varieties, as compared to 72 species and 4 varieties in the first edition. Of those 72 species, 52 are retained (often under different names), 16 reduced to varieties, and four placed in synonymy. Thus 16 species and 35 varieties have been added in 30 years, 14 of them first described by Dr. Benson. The California book includes 35 species and 27 varieties.
Although every taxonomic work necessarily builds on earlier work, these books are in every sense thoroughly solid and original contributions, far surpassing all previous treatments for their areas. The principal work, of which these are by-products, is therefore awaited with high expectation.
WHITTAKER, ROBERT H. 1970. Communities and Ecosystems. Macmillan, Toronto. xi -~- 162 pp., illus. $3.95 (paperback edition).
Communities and Ecosystems is designed in the words of the series editors, " . . . to give the student in general biology, zoology, and botany an in-depth view of the principal aspects of life science." The aspect of this volume is synecology.
After a brief introduction to such terms as ecosystem, natural community, and synecology, the author discusses community structure and composition. Treatments of horizontal pattern and vertical structure are adequate. Changes in community structure with time are discussed, but the work phonology is not mentioned. Niche is well treated, however, one point of confusion may result. On p. 19 Dr. Whittaker states, "For space, in application to a community, read niche," while on p. 22 he writes "Occupation of niche space in this community involves first the relation of species to the vertical height axis." It appears that niche changes its meaning between these pages, otherwise we must read niche (= space), or space ( niche) niche. Discussion in this chapter also requires prior knowledge of Chi-square measurement and Poisson distribution, terms not likely to be in a beginning student's vocabulary.
The importance of environment in shaping communities is emphasized in Chapter 3. At this point the author submits four hypotheses for explaining distribution of vegetation along an environmental gradient. When these are compared to field evidence, the continuum approach is found superior to others (including the discontinuum approach). Examination of the "evidence from the field," plus the method of analysis (p. 36), shows this conclusion to be unavoidable, for no mention is made of successional status. In fact, succession and climax are discussed 32 pages later. The reader is given the impression in Chapters 2 and 3 that if anything plots as a bell-shaped curve, it correctly portrays the community. The remainder of the chapter includes a satisfactory discussion of world vegetation, plus a good selection of photographs.
Terrestrial and marine productivity are considered in depth in Chapter 4, including discussions of production measurement, food chains, and trophic levels. Here as in several other places the author forgets the audience for whom the book was intended by including discussions (pages 90-91) which approach mathematic exercises in their detail. Difficulty in understanding these examples is heightened by not using wider spacing in the text, so that symbols and values can be clearly seen.
A good discussion of cycling (organic, mineral, and biogeochemical) and pollution (radioactive isotope, pesticide, eutrophication, and atmospheric) is provided in Chapter 5. Here again an involved discussion is included (page 124), however, several terms such as r ("sum of the decimal fraction transfer rates for output from the pool"), and k ("an instantaneous rate constant") are confusing at best. In following this discussion of residence time for substances in a pool, it is not clear whether there are one or two k's, for one is smaller than the other and appears as an exponent. At any rate, the equations are of dubious value to the beginning student. Although treated as a point of history in the text, danger of radio-active pollution by the Hanford Works in eastern Washington remains a problem even today. In the concluding remarks (Chapter 6), Dr. Whittaker presents an admirable summary on consequences of failure to consider man as part of the biosphere.
A map of world vegetation is included at the end of the text. This untitled and unreferenced chart apparently indicates formation-types of the world, however, vegetation denoted as "mountain" is not by that name included in the discussion on pages 52-64. The map's composition resembles in parr several standard vegetation maps of the world, with the exception of central China which is surprisingly lumped as "mountain" vegetation. The cartography is unsatisfactory even for an introductory text.
In spite of the generally critical review, I believe the text could be adequately adapted for introductory biology courses, and as an introduction for professionals in other fields, for no other book to my knowledge synthesizes these topics.
Richard N. Mack