Category Archives: It’s All About the Plants

Ecology in Australia and elsewhere

It’s All About the Plants
Tuesday, 8 Sep. 2015, 10:00–12:00
Goodman Building Lecture Theatre,
adjacent to the State Herbarium of South Australia
Adelaide Botanic Garden, Hackney Road

by José Facelli
Ecology & Environmental Science, The University of Adelaide

The traditional view of ecologists is that vegetation is determined by the environment. However, there is strong evidence that individual plants can actually modify the local environment and that these modifications can have profound effects on the rest of the plant community and on ecosystem function. Importantly plants introduce spatial heterogeneity into the environment, which in turn helps to maintain diversity by creating patches that favour different species.

Almost without noticing I have been addressing these issues for over 20 years. I welcome this opportunity to bring together and share research done by myself and other members of my laboratory. I will show how living (and dead!) plants can drive ecological processes, and the importance of this for management, conservation and restoration of native vegetation.

Associate Professor José (Jope) Facelli studied Agricultural Sciences at the University of Buenos Aires, but soon become bored of crops and interested in natural ecosystems. This lead to research on the effects of grazing in Patagonia and in the Pampas. He eventually completed a PhD (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey) on the effects of leaf litter on successional processes. In 1992 he moved to Adelaide where he established the Terrestrial Plant Ecology Lab. Currently the research in this laboratory includes topics as diverse as the role of soil microbes in plant invasions, the effects of fire on populations of orchids and their pollinators, and the interactions between plant parasites and their hosts.

All Herbarium staff, honoraries, volunteers, students and guests welcome. Morning tea provided.

From snow melt to seashore: fungal tales from the land of the long white cloud

It’s All About the Plants
Tuesday, 16 June 2015, 10:00–12:00
Ground Floor Meeting Room / Tea-room,
State Herbarium of South Australia,
Old Tram Barn Building, Hackney Road

by Teresa Lebel
Senior Mycologist , National Herbarium of Victoria, Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

I have just returned from a two year fellowship in New Zealand, where I was fortunate to be able to work on a series of different projects and travel quite a bit around the islands. New Zealand has an amazing range of ecological zones and a diverse plant flora (including many introduced species), all of which provide an array of substrates and hosts for fungi. While my particular research interests are focused on the taxonomy and phylogenetic relationships of truffles and truffle-like fungi, I am also intrigued by interactions between fungi and other organisms, whether positive or negative, or in balance. In this talk I will provide snapshots of a series of fungal projects; and every completed project generates many more questions!

All Herbarium staff, honoraries, volunteers, students and guests welcome.
Morning tea provided.

Many arms (and legs) make light work!

Crowdsourcing the digitisation of invertebrate collections at the South Australian Museum

It’s All About the Plants
Tuesday, 5 May 2015, 10:00–12:00
Goodman Building Lecture Theatre,
adjacent to the State Herbarium of South Australia
Adelaide Botanic Garden, Hackney Road

by Alexis Tindall
South Australian Museum

Photo: Alexis Tindall

New technologies have the potential to make museum and herbaria collections useful in new ways, and expose them to new audiences, but making our collections digital is a huge challenge for these organisations.

The South Australian Museum has, like many museums around the world, turned to online volunteers as one way to speed the digitisation of our collections. Alexis Tindall, Project Manager, will share her experience using the DigiVol crowdsourcing portal to digitise the museum’s marine and terrestrial invertebrate collections. She’ll talk about the benefits and opportunities of crowdsourcing, as well as the challenges they encountered along the way.

Alexis Tindall joined the South Australian Museum in late 2010 to establish a volunteer program to digitise terrestrial invertebrate types for delivery online through the Atlas of Living Australia. Volunteers in that program create thousands of high resolution digital photographs and database records to make these taxonomically significant specimens more discoverable and accessible. Since then the digitisation project has expanded to provide images on demand to inquiring researchers for analysis and publication, exploring crowdsourcing as a method of rapid digitisation, and the development of digital products such as the Field Guide to the Fauna of South Australia app.

All Herbarium staff, honoraries, volunteers, students and guests welcome.
Morning tea provided.

Plant DNA barcoding in the genomics era

It’s All About the Plants
Tuesday, 14 April 2015, 10:00–12:00
Goodman Building Lecture Theatre,
adjacent to the State Herbarium of South Australia
Adelaide Botanic Garden, Hackney Road

by Ed Biffin
State Herbarium of South Australia

Barcoding DNADNA sequences have long been used to identify biological specimens. The DNA Barcoding initiative has sought to standardise this process through the development of one or a few short regions of DNA that can be routinely obtained from all living species and can distinguish among them. The ‘official’ plant DNA barcode, comprising two DNA fragments from the chloroplast genome, has several favourable qualities but also has limitations. With the recent development of new sequencing technologies, the availability of genome scale data has dramatically increased. Ed will talk about these developments, and how new sources of data may be used to improve the plant DNA barcoding solution.

All Herbarium staff, honoraries, volunteers, students and guests welcome.
Morning tea provided.