|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 547 March 30, email@example.com||Victoria, B.C.|
It is with deep sorrow we announce the passing at the age of 101 of our dearly loved father, grandfather and great-grandfather – Dr. William Alfred Weber. He passed away on March 18, 2020 peacefully in his sleep with family present at the TRU Community Care Hospice of the Longmont United Hospital in Longmont, Colorado, while recovering from a recent fall. His final views through his windows were of his beloved Rocky Mountains, including a panorama view of the Indian and Long's Peaks.
Dr. Weber leaves a rich and lasting legacy, both personal and professional. His family, friends and colleagues the world over will dearly miss him. His infectious, child-like curiosity and speculations over the workings and wonders of nature have been an inspiration to all who knew him. His eclectic knowledge and storytelling abilities were astounding. His wide and deep scientific knowledge and works, encompassing lichenology, bryology, and vascular plants, will continue to inspire botanists for years to come.
The williamaweber.com website that he created will be maintained and expanded as a lasting memorial to his memory and work. Our journal Acta Botanica Weberi will continue to issue Dr. Weber's hitherto unpublished and unfinished writings.
William A. Weber was born in New York City on November 16, 1918. He began to study bryophytes in 1933 when he was shown a small collection by his high school biology teacher, Grace Esternaux (born 1901), who had taken a bryology course at Cornell University. His first botanical paper was published in 1940. He has field bryological experience in the United States including Alaska and Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, Canary Islands, Chile, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Europe, Nepal, and Russia. His most recent book on bryophytes was published in 2007 (Weber & Wittmann). His field investigations have taken him to many parts of the world and have included lichens, bryophytes, vascular plants, as well as phytogeography. His long-standing survey of the Colorado flora culminated in a two volume work that included keys, phytogeographical and historical background material and stories from the field. He has published biographical works on Wilhelm Suksdorf, T.D.A. Cockerell, and C. C. Parry. He has a broad base as a character actor, choral singer, recorder player, and loves to sing Gilbert and Sullivan at the drop of a hat.
Dr. Weber leaves a rich and lasting legacy, both personal and professional. His family, friends and colleagues the world over will dearly miss him. His infectious, child-like curiosity and speculations over the workings and wonders of nature have been an inspiration to all who knew him. His eclectic knowledge and storytelling abilities were astounding. His broad and deep scientific knowledge and works, encompassing lichenology, bryology, and vascular plants, will continue to inspire botanists for years to come. The journal Acta Botanica Weberi will continue to issue Dr. Weber's hitherto unpublished and unfinished writings.
We met Bill Weber at the International Phytogeographic Excursion (IPE) to Japan in 1984 and became close friends. His Ph.D. thesis was on Wilhelm Suksdorf's collections. It was Bill Weber, who deciphered Suksdorf's herbarium labels and incorporated Suksdorf's collections into the WS and WTU herbaria. Suksdorf's Falcon Valley is botanically most interesting area of the Pacific Northwest and for years, it has been my & Oluna's pilgrimage site.
In the mid 1990s, we also supported each other when we were both cut off from our herbarium collections and were allowed to use them only as herbarium visitors.
The last project on which we were working together was looking for the publisher for Doris Love's Flora of Mt. Washington, NH. Bill kept the original manuscript, and I sent my copy to my Charles University supervisor, Prof. Jan Jenik. With the advance in e-publishing at this time, it might be easy to accomplish this task. Can the Acta Botanica Weberi post it as a special issue?
Bill Weber was a close friend of my close friend, Vera Komárková. He helped her with her thesis and also even participated in one of her mountaineering expeditions to the Himalayas. Vera Komárková was the best phytosociologist North America has ever had. Her monumental thesis on Indian Peaks, CO, is the best vegetation study that a North American phytosociologist ever produced. How lucky she was to get all Bill Weber's help with Colorado flora and bryophytes!
Bill was also a good friend of BEN (Botanical Electronic News). He read every issue and contributed by many valuable postings. I posted every BEN issue with having in mind that he would be the first reader and that he hated any nonsense and sloppiness. With my Czechlish, it has been challenging to meet his criteria.
We would like to express our condolences to Bill's family. We much appreciate their Acta Botanica Weberi effort and wish them all the best in their publishing W.A. Weber's works.
Related BEN issues:
Rarity actually is the end result of many interacting factors. These may be characteristics of the species itself: its genetic diversity or homogeneity which may make it resistant or vulnerable to changes in the habitat or environment; its mode and recentness of origin; and its reproductive strategy. Other factors may have to do with externals: alteration of the habitat, either natural (fire, flood, climatic change) or induced by the hand of man (livestock grazing, introduction of exotic animals, pollinators, introduced plants, cultivation and site "improvements"; exploitation of wild plants for food, drugs, or firewood; in the instance of lichens, removal of rocks to use for beautification of homes or gardens). These changes in the habitats make it more difficult to make detailed studies of the autecology and population biology of rare plant species of Colorado.
I believe survival among Colorado's rare cryptogams is definitely a function of the availability and the preservation of the proper micro-habitat over extremely long periods of time. This, I am convinced, is the only reasonable explanation for the large number of highly disjunct species in the Rocky Mountain flora. Certainly there is little logic in a hypothesis of independent origin of such species, or of migration of whole floras over huge expanses of land and sea. One very convincing observation is that these disjunct species have special micro-habitats or eco-niches, and they could hardly have migrated without their habitats going along with them.
There are virtually no endemic species of bryophytes or lichens in Colorado.
Most of Colorado's rare cryptogams are simply widely disjunct species whose main areas are the Arctic, Europe, middle Asia, South Africa, and Australasia. None are globally threatened, but these outlying populations may eventually prove to be important for studies in biogeography and genetics. However, we know so little about genetic variability in the bryophytes and lichens that conservation efforts of the species themselves are hardly justified at the present time. We do suspect, with ample justification, that bryophytes and lichens show very little tendency to vary in the ways flowering plants do. Part of this comes from the primarily haploid chromosome situation in most mosses during the major portion of the growing period. In lichen In lichen species most of the demonstrated variability appears to be due to environmental modification.
In very few places in the world are cryptogam distributions well enough known to be able to confirm a status of true rarity. One I am personally acquainted with is the case of the moss Andreaea rupestris, an exclusively rock-inhabiting moss, that in all of Holland is found only on a single boulder in a field in Friesland. Ben O. Van Zanten showed me the moss, "Look at that rock over there — that is the only Andreaea in Holland!" Needless to say we left it alone.
In many instances of disjunct distributions, presuming the field observations have been adequate, one can safely state that some species are very rare, at least in this area, although not at all on the world scene. In Colorado, the moss Leptodon smithii is known from only two collections in Clear Creek Canyon, on an outcrop of calcareous schist, and one other collection in nearby Bear Creek Canyon. These are the only localities in North America where this moss is known to occur. However, we do know that it is a calciphile from its occurrence elsewhere on limestone and on trees that pick up limestone dust. Its world distribution includes the Mediterranean region, eastern Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Africa, Europe, and Russia. It is not at all rare in those places. But in Colorado, despite many subsequent searches, we have not succeeded in finding a "mother lode". Limiting factors are the substrate and perhaps the altitude, but we have not adequately explored Clear Creek Canyon (the work requires rock-climbers), nor other similar areas where the proper rock type occurs. See Nelson (1973) and Weber & Linna Weber Müller-Wille (2018).
Some rarities of the disjunct kind are simply the result of incomplete knowledge. The lichen Candelariella spraguei was thought to be endemic to Colorado, where it is found on seeping rock surfaces in the lower slopes of the outer Front Range. But it has since been discovered in the Tian Shan Mountains of Central Asia! Conversely, the moss Didymodon anserinocapitatus had to be considered a rarity of China, where it was first discovered, until we found it in Colorado in Phantom Canyon north of Canyon City. An alpine lichen that, for many years, we had incorrectly assumed was a variety of the common Dactylina madreporiformis turned out to be Allocetraria stracheyi, known thus far only from the Himalaya and Taiwan!
A species may be considered to be rare if one or only a few collections are known to exist in Colorado. This does not mean that every species will remain in this category. Species, for example, that have been found only once or twice in the San Juans may not be critical simply because collectors have not been active there (Campylophyllum halleri, Encalypta procera). On the other hand, iron fens in the San Juans are not common and they support several very rare species. The special substrate provided by mining dumps and even metal mine trams is a unique habitat that supports the only known station for the "copper moss" Mielichhoferia elongata in Colorado.
Species will be rare when first encountered and become less rare with time. The history of many so-called rarities is that they become less rare as we learn more about their nature and the location of their habitats. If the site is not unique then we can expect to find the species more often as we gain experience in recognizing it in the field. A prime example is that of the alpine rarity Oreas martiana, a moss that is rare world-wide. See Weber (1961, 1973).
The rich alpine flora of Colorado has a concentration point on Mount Evans and the Indian Peaks. Intrigued by this phenomenon of rare occurrences, many foreign botanists have visited the area and found Phippsia algida, Saxifraga foliolosa, Koenigia islandica, and other rare alpine vascular plants at Summit Lake. Norwegian phytosociologist Eilif Dahl and I discovered Koenigia there in 1953. See Weber (1952, 1955). Visiting specialists, with their familiarity of species seen elsewhere in the world, sometimes find species which local botanists have missed. Noted Danish bryologist Kjeld Holmen visited the Mount Evans site with me in 1960. Holmen had just been in northern Greenland, where he had discovered Oreas martiana for the first time. He came to Colorado via Lake Peters, Alaska, where, a few days before, he had discovered the genus for the first time in North America. Having just gotten out of the car at Summit Lake, Kjeld was on his knees looking for Koenigia, when he suddenly exclaimed that he thought he had found Oreas! To confirm his identification he then hunted around for several minutes until he found the distinctively shaped capsules, usually exceedingly uncommon yet definitive for the identification. Thus a second locality for North America was established.
For several years, Summit Lake was the only site in the contiguous United States where this rare moss was known to occur. However, when Vera Komárková began to investigate the plant associations of the Indian Peaks area in the 1970s, she found that Oreas was often a dominant feature of wet tundra. See Komárková (1976, 1979). Judging from the two full drawers of Colorado Oreas in the COLO herbarium it would be hard to justify the claim that Oreas is a rare moss. Certainly it is very restricted in its distribution, even in Colorado, but rare it is not.
What is really needed at the present time is for observers to notify an expert of potential sites for investigation. It should be easy to train people to recognize critical areas, thus saving much valuable time in our searches for rare cryptogams.
More time, however, will be needed for teaching local amateurs to be able to recognize the cryptogams and their eco-niches. Learning the bryophytes can be easily achievable. Summer moss walks and workshops would go far in accomplishing this important task. To this end the manual Bryophytes of Colorado: Mosses, Liverworts, and Hornworts (Weber & Wittmann, 2007) is an essential tool. A beginner's guide to Colorado's easily recognized bryophytes is in progress and will become available through the williamaweber.com website. The lichens will be more of a challenge.
Komárková, V. 1976. Alpine vegetation of the Indian Peaks area, Front Range, Colorado Rocky Mountains. Ph. D. Dissertation, University of Colorado. 1976;655.
Komárková, V. 1979. Alpine vegetation of the Indian Peaks area: Front Range, Colorado Rocky Mountains. Cramer 1979.
Nelson, P.P. 1973. Leptodon smithii (Musci, Neckeraceae), a genus new to North America. Bryologist 76:434-437
Weber, W.A. 1952. Phippsia algida in Colorado. Rhodora 51:141-145.
Weber, W.A. 1955. Additions to the Flora of Colorado. II. University of Colorado Studies, Series in Biology 3:65–114.
Weber, W.A. 1961. A second American Record for Oreas martiana. Bryologist 63:241-244.
Weber, W.A. 1973. Guide to the mosses of Colorado. Inst. Arctic & Alpine Research Occ. Pap. 6:1-48.
Weber, W.A. & R. C. Wittmann. 2007. Bryophytes of Colorado: Mosses, Liverworts, and Hornworts. Pilgrims Process, Inc., Santa Fe.
Weber, W.A. & Linna Weber Müller-Wille. 2018. Global Plant Distribution and Continental Drift : Two moss species. Acta Botanica Weberi 1:1-24. http://williamaweber.com/acta-botanica-weberi/abw-issues
Trillium hibbersonii (T.M.C.Taylor & Szczaw.) D.O'Neill & S.B.Farmer, Phytotaxa 436(2): 193 (2020).
The entity now known as Trillium ovatum f. hibbersonii T.M.C.Taylor & Szczaw. was first discovered on the west coast of Vancouver Island in 1938 by Hibberson. [Hibberson found it Monday April 25, 1938. In his diary he wrote: "Saw small species of trillium on rocks at 2,000 feet". This was at Boat Basin, on the inward top of Hesquiat Harbour and inland about one and a half miles. (Wiley 1968)]. The type locality is near Boat Basin, Hesquiat Harbour. Although it has gained popularity as a garden plant due to its diminutive size, it has received little attention in the scientific community. Gardeners who have grown the plant, however, have long believed that it is a distinct species (Ware 2014). Wiley (1968) attempted to name this dwarf plant, but by failing to include a Latin description and not citing a nomenclatural type, he created a nomen nudum. Taylor & Szczawinski (1974) subsequently reviewed its status and suggested that it was simply part of an intergrading series with Trillium ovatum, but they published the new name, T. ovatum forma hibbersonii. More recently, the name T. ovatum var. hibbersonii (T.M.C.Taylor & Szczaw.) Douglas & Pojar (2001: 353) has been proposed, in part to be able to list it as a distinct entity in a floristic treatment that did not include forms (Douglas & Pojar 2011). Both Taylor & Szczawinski (1974) and Douglas & Pojar (2011) considered it to be merely a dwarf variant of Trillium ovatum.
O'Neill (1995) presented a comprehensive review of Trillium ovatum forma hibbersonii based on multiple sources of data, including cytology, morphology and flavonoid chemistry, and concluded that it should be recognized as a species distinct from T. ovatum. Most recently, analyses of DNA sequence data including a complete set of plastid genes (Lampley et al. unpubl.) have shown that it is not only distinct from T. ovatum but a member of a different [Trillium erectum] clade. Thus, similarities in morphology between it and T. ovatum (Taylor & Szczawinski 1974, Douglas & Pojar 2011) reflect primarily the overall similarity of many species of Trillium to one another rather than being conspecific. We thus make the new combination for T. ovatum forma hibbersonii at the species level.
Douglas, G.W. & Pojar, J. 2011. Trillium ovatum Pursh variety hibbersonii (Taylor et Szczawinski) Douglas et Pojar, variety nova. Canadian Field-Naturalist 115: 353.
Taylor, T.M.C. & Szczawinski, A.F. 1974. Trillium ovatum Pursh forma hibbersonii Taylor et Szczawinski. Syesis 7: 250.
Ware, G. 2014. Trillium hibbersonii – the fugitive species of Vancouver Island. Alpine Garden Club of British Columbia Quarterly Bulletin 57: 71–73.
Wiley, L. 1968. Rare wildflowers of North America. Wiley, Portland, 501 p.
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