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Department ofBotany

No. 176
February 1998

Editor: Jane Villa-Lobos


Yellowstone National Park is the oldest (dedicated in 1872), the largest, and the most famous national park in the United States. The park lies in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and covers 3,458 sq. miles. Almost all the region is volcanic, with numerous geysers, hot springs, fumaroles and boiling mudpots. In 1966 Dr. Thomas Brook made a startling discovery while working at Yellowstone National Park - the existence of previously unknown life forms living at very high temperatures in the Park's protected thermal environments.

Research conducted by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) scientists at Yellowstone suggests that the park's thermal environments offer some of the world's best preserved windows on the origin of life on Earth as well as clues about the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe. Valuable applications of research results on microorganisms first discovered at Yellowstone are contributing to expanding scientific interest in the park's thermophilic biological resources. Biotech applications resulting from research involving Thermus aquaticus (a heat-loving microorganism) have led medical science to diagnostic tests for HIV while revolutionizing forensics through DNA fingerprinting. Other valuable applications have been applied in the manufacture of antibiotics, plastics, detergents and fermentation products that have generated significant benefits.

The Yellowstone Thermophiles Conservation Project, coordinated by the World Foundation for Environment and Development in cooperation with Yellowstone National Park, the Yellowstone Park Foundation, and the National Park Foundation, will explore important biodiversity management practices that can be adapted to the particular needs and circumstances of other parks and conservation areas nationwide. The Project will focus on three core areas of activity intended to generate support for increased conservation practices at the Park: new microbial biodiversity conservation activities, scientific research, and public outreach and education. Project activities will be designed to: 1)strengthen in situ thermal habitat conservation efforts as well as ex situ Yellowstone microbial culture collection, development and maintenance; 2) encourage scientific research activities to further the understanding of the origins and patterns of microbial biodiversity at Yellowstone; and 3) place special emphasis on improving public awareness and appreciation of the value of national parks and the biodiversity they protect through publications, videos, and in-the-field workshops and excursions.

For more information, contact: The Yellowstone Thermophiles Conservation Project, 1000 16th Street, NW, Suite 415, Washington, DC 20036; Tel.: (202) 364-8276; Fax: (202) 686-3771; E-mail:


By Ernest Rukangira

In Africa, remedies made from plants and traditional healers play an important role in the health of millions of people. Local communities have always used and managed natural biodiversity resources to meet their needs in health care. In order to strengthen their activities in this area, it is necessary to develop, through local community participation, mechanisms and activities allowing governments to plan and set up appropriate strategies and policies related to this issue.

The Environment Liaison Centre International (ELCI), an international non-governmental organization which brings together more than 900 organizations in more than 100 countries, initiated a four-year project in 1997 in Africa to encourage the conservation of biodiversity by helping local communities utilize their knowledge and practices regarding traditional medicine, pharmacopoeia and local medicinal plants. Countries in North Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa and Central Africa were selected to reflect different characteristics representative of the ecozones of Africa. The main aim of the project is to launch investigations among representative local communities on questions relating to the conservation of biodiversity, trade in medicinal plants, exchange of information between the local communities, and rights relating to intellectual property rights of traditional knowledge on medicinal plants. In the long term, the project seeks to assist local communities to understand the necessity of sustainable use of biological resources by reinforcing indigenous know-how and developing appropriate tools and methodologies to enable them to benefit from their knowledge and practices. It also seeks to stimulate the official recognition of the importance and value of traditional medicine as practiced within the cultural context of each local community, to encourage the uses of effective herbal remedies to treat the most common ailments and to promote the conservation and sustained use of natural resources stressing the importance of the intimate relationship between people and the environment.

For more information, contact: Ernest Rukangira, Programme Coordinator, ELCI, P.O. Box 72461, Nairobi, Kenya; Tel.: (254-2) 562015 or 562172; Fax: (254-2) 562175; E-mail:


In October, 1997 massive fires burned in Brazil and Southeast Asia destroying the habitats of some of the world's most diverse animal and plant assemblages. In Southeast Asia, over two million acres burned, causing a thick, yellow haze that also risked the health of millions of humans; in Brazil the number of destructive fires increased by 28% in 1997, causing an urgent need for international action to conserve the world's dwindling rain forests.

A recent report, Rain Forests on Fire: Conservation Consequences published by World Wildlife Fund (WWF), identifies the major cause of the fires as destructive logging and clearing and recommends that governments in the affected regions look at long term solutions to prevent these disasters from becoming annual events. Fires, destructive logging and conversion to tree plantations and agriculture have consumed more than 30% of Asia's forests since 1960-- each year these activities destroy an additional 14,000 sq. miles of rain forests, an area roughly the size of Switzerland, in Southeast Asia. Data from WWF indicate that in Kalimantan and Sumatra alone, a further 89,000 sq. miles of forests are slated for future logging and 31,000 for agricultural conversion.

This rapid assessment report recommends four key actions by governments and the private sector to help prevent future disasters. They are: 1) banning the use of fire for clearing land and preventing the conversion of diverse natural forests to single species plantations; 2) strengthening forest protected areas to include at least 10% of each forest type in effectively managed protected areas; 3) scaling back or halting the massive logging concessions planned for Borneo and the Amazon and Congo Basins; and 4) encouraging forestry operations to follow strict environmental and social guidelines such as those set out by the Forest Stewardship Council.

The report can be obtained from World Wildlife Fund, Global Forest Program, 1250 Twenty-Fourth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037-1175; Tel.: (202) 293-4800.


The first rain forest tree-top walkway in Brazil was constructed in the country's Atlantic Forest as part of a project designed to stimulate investment in ecotourism. Thanks to a unique partnership between Conservation International (CI) and Anheuser-Busch Companies, the 350-foot long walkway, suspended 45-to-65 feet above the forest floor near the Una Biological Reserve, is scheduled to open in June 1998, giving visitors the opportunity to view forest wildlife that might never otherwise be observed. About 320 acres of valuable rain forest habitat adjacent to the Una Reserve were spared from logging as a result of this walkway project. A team of rock climbers used bows and arrows to place support ropes in the towering trees and a master carpenter from Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis helped design the walkway structure ensuring that no part of the walkway requires bolts to the trees.

Isolated from the Amazonian forests to the north and west, the Atlantic Forest ranks among the top five global biodiversity hotspots partly due to its high number of endemic (originally found nowhere else) species, including 6,000 plant species, 199 bird species, 73 mammal species and 260 reptile species. Among these unique and threatened species are the golden-lion tamarin, the maned sloth, the thin-spined porcupine and the red-tailed parrot. Today, the Atlantic Forest is reduced to less than five percent of its original area.

A recent analysis conducted by CI and its local partner in Brazil, the Institute for Social and Environmental Studies in Southern Bahia, revealed an enormous demand among visitors to the region for forest conservation and ecotourism activities. The value of a vacation to the region would be halved if the forest were lost, but would jump by $52 per visitor, or a total of $15 million, if a forest attraction were added. CI constructed a similar rain forest canopy walkway in Ghana's Kakum National Park in 1995, which boosted annual visitation to the park from 7,000 to 50,000 visitors in just two years. This project in Brazil is one example of an alternative to ecologically destructive logging as recommended by the above WWF assessment.


The 1998 Conservation Directory, published by the National Wildlife Federation, is the most comprehensive listing of 3,000 organizations, agencies, colleges and universities with conservation programs, and more than 16,500 officials concerned with environmental conservation, education, and natural resource use and management. Each entry contains data on: names, addresses, telephone and fax numbers, e-mail and www addresses, descriptions of program areas, size of membership, and more.

The directory costs $61.00 (includes shipping) and can be obtained from: National Wildlife Federation, P.O. Box 50281, Hampden Station, Baltimore, MD 21211-4281.

The Cactus and Succulent Plants Action Plan, produced by members of the Species Survival Commission of the IUCN-The World Conservation Union, brings together current information, never before compiled on the population status, threats, and conservation of this group of important plants from around the world. From this compilation, priorities for conservation action are emphasized, providing direction for funding in plant conservation work. Conservationists, scientists, government officials, protected area managers, educators, and grant awarding bodies alike should find this publication helpful in their work to conserve global and local flora.

The book comprises four chapters and a series of annexes that provide readers with concise information on the current status of cactus and succulent populations. The extensive bibliography provides a comprehensive resource for more information on this group of plants. The Plan begins with overviews, written by botanists who specialize in the study of these particular plant families and the distribution, diversity, threats and status of eight main taxonomic groups of succulents. Chapter 2 describes and reviews existing conservation measures for succulent plants around the world with information on legislation, controlling the trade, and in situ and ex situ conservation. Chapter 3 gives regional accounts of major areas with the highest concentration of threatened plants. The final chapter of the Plan describes the priority conservation action proposals, developed by the members of the SSC Cactus and Succulent Specialist Group, for succulent plants around the world. Implementing these proposals will save the maximum diversity of this plant group based on present knowledge.

The Plan can be obtained from: IUCN Publications Services Unit, 219c Huntingdon Road, Cambridge, CB3 0DL, U.K.; Tel.: (44) 1223 277894; Fax: (44) 1223 277175; E-Mail:; WWW:


March 21 - April 1. The Natural Areas Association is sponsoring its third international workshop for natural areas and forest management professionals in Brazil. Participants will visit a variety of protected areas, many in the highly threatened Atlantic Forest, to learn about local research and management issues and to share information among participating conservationists from different countries. The focus will be on the cooperative role that private and government conservation plans play in protecting Brazil's biodiversity. The price of the trip is $1,595 per person, which covers food, lodging, in-country transportation and guides. For more information and/or to make reservations, contact: Abigail Rome, 1939 Lamont Street, NW, Washington, DC 20010; Tel.: (202) 778-9793; E-mail:

April 24-27. The cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Rainforest Ecology and Management and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute announce an exciting conference, "Rainforests: Past and Future", which will be held at James Cook University, Queensland, Australia. The symposium will bring together scientists from around the world researching across a range of disciplines to discuss the understanding of the origin, maintenance and conservation of tropical forest communities. Registration is $300. For more information, contact: Kerry Moore, Conference Organizer, Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Rainforest Ecology and Management, P.O. Box 6811, Cairns 4870 QLD Australia; Tel.: 61 7 40 421254; Fax: 61 7 40 421247; E-mail:


The Directory for Medicinal Plant Conservation is now available on the Internet. The directory includes 139 medicinal plant projects and institutions, based on more than 80 countries worldwide, which are characterized by their status, objectives, activities, geographic interest, databases, publications, funding resources, and contact address. The searchable database can be accessed at It now forms part of the German Clearing House Mechanism of the Convention on Biological Diversity.


Don't forget to respond to the form inserted in the December 1997 issue indicating your decision to either remain on or be deleted from the mailing list. I encourage as many readers as possible to view the newsletter on the Botany Homepage, address given below, to minimize the time and paper that goes into this effort. Thank you.


Adams, J. 1997. Road to habitat destruction? EnviroAction October: 10-11. (USA Congress proposing to build a highway through Alaska's pristine Izembek Wilderness and Wildlife Refuge)

Ahmed, A., Rahmani, A., Das, G. and Misra, M. 1997. India's illegal falconry trade. TRAFFIC Bull. 17(1): 49-52.

Anon. 1997. Field study of Ara ambigua guayaquilensis and environmental education project. BirdLife in the Americas 2(3): 5-6. (Ecuador)

Anon. 1997. Guanica Biosphere Reserve. U.S. MAB Bull. 21(3): 6. (Puerto Rico)

Anon. 1997. Mapping North America's living legacy. FOCUS 19(6): 1-2. (North American Conservation Assessment)

Anon. 1997. Massive fires endanger local wildlife. FOCUS 19(6): 3. (Fires in rain forests in Brazil and Southeast Asia)

Anon. 1997. Protecting a Mexican coral reef. FOCUS 19(6): 3. (Banco Chinchorro of the Great Maya Reef)

Anon. 1997. Saving Florida's river of grass. FOCUS 19(6): 4-5. (Everglades)

Anon. 1997. U.S. parks damaged by global warming. FOCUS 19(6): 3.

Araujo-Lima, C. and Goulding, M. 1997. So Fruitful a Fish. Ecology, Conservation, and Aquaculture of the Amazon's Tambaqui. Columbia University Press, Irvington, New York. 192 pp.

Bannerman, J. 1997. Goldenseal in world trade: pressures and potentials. HerbalGram 41: 51. (Medicinal value)

Barrett, B. 1997. Herbs and healing on Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast. HerbalGram 41: 35-48.

Barthem, R. and Goulding, M. 1997. The Catfish Connection. Ecology, Migration, and Conservation of Amazon Predators. Columbia University Press, Irvington, New York. 184 pp.

Belik, V. and Galushin, V. 1997. Imperial eagle populations begin to recover in European Russia. Russian Conservation News 13: 21-22.

Bertonatti, C. 1997. Estrategia de Conservacion de las Aves de la Argentina: Antecedentes y Propuestas. Asociacion Ornitologica del Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina. 92 pp.

Betsill, M., Glantz, M. and Crandall, K. 1997. Preparing for El Nino: what role for forecasts? Environment 39(10): 6- 13, 26-29. (Case study from South Africa)

Calhoun, J. 1997. Updated list of the butterflies and skippers of Florida (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea and Hesperioideae). Holoarctic Lepidoptera 4(2): 39-50. (Rare and imperiled taxa noted)

Cech, R. 1997. The Herbalists' United Plant Savers. HerbalGram 41: 50. (U.S. group to preserve native medicinal plant populations from loss of habitat and over harvest)

Che-Tsung, C., Kwang-Ming, L. and Shoou-Jeng, J. 1997. Preliminary report on Taiwan's whale shark fishery. TRAFFIC Bull. 17(1): 53-57.

Christensen, J. 1998. Bringing salmon back. Am. Forests 103(4): 16-20, 41. (Oregon)

Chuprov, V. 1997. In the nation's interest: clean water or gold? Russian Conservation News 13: 31-34. (Gold mining in the Komi Republic)

Clavero, J. 1997. Peligra la mejor zona selvatica de Venezuela. Quercus 141: 42-43. (Alto Orinoco-Casiquiare Biosphere Reserve)

Daly, C. and Muir, M. 1998. Repairing the system. Am. Forests 103(4): 32-34, 41. (Sustainable forestry)

Duke, J. 1997. The Green Pharmacy. HarperCollins, New York, New York. 308 pp.

Durbin, K. 1998. Looking at old growth from new angles. Nat. Wildlife 36(1): 32-39. (USA)

Ecuadorian Red Data Book Working Group. (Compilers). 1997. Lista de Aves Amenazadas de Extincion en el Ecuador. CECIA, Quito, Ecuador. 31 pp.

Gavashelishvili, A. 1997. Tracking the bearded vulture. Russian Conservation News 13: 24-25. (Rarest vulture in Europe)

Gray, I. 1997. Report of the Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES. TRAFFIC Bull. 17(1): 5-19.

Guglielmino, J. 1998. Smokies are for the birds. Am. Forests 103(4): 6. (Great Smoky Mountain National Park, USA, wintering grounds to 80 species of neotropical songbird migrants)

Hinrichsen, D. 1997. Coastal Waters of the World. Trends, Threats, and Strategies. Island Press, Covelo, California. 420 pp.

Hjarsen, T. 1997. The effects of plantations in the Andes. Tropical Forest Update 7(2): 15.

Hjarsen, T. 1997. The effects of rural forestry and plantations on high Andean biodiversity. Mountain Forum Bull. August: 14-15.

Izverskaya, T. and Pynzaru, P. 1997. Conserving Moldova's flora. Russian Conservation News 13: 5-6.

James, H. and Burney, D. 1997. The diet and ecology of Hawaii's extinct flightless waterfowl: evidence from coprolites. Biol. J. Linnean Soc. 62(2): 279-297.

Lange, D. 1997. Trade in plant material for medicinal and other purposes - a German case study. TRAFFIC Bull. 17(1): 20-32.

Line, L. 1998. Is this the world's rarest bird? Nat. Wildlife 36(1): 46-47. (Hawaiian honeycreeper)

Maehr, D. 1997. The Florida Panther. Life and Death of a Vanishing Carnivore. Island Press, Covelo, California. 320 pp.

Maleshin, N. 1997. Does the future of Tsentral'no- Chernozemny Biosphere Zapovednik belong to will, or to fate? Russian Conservation News 13: 10-11.

Martin, E. 1997. Wildlife products for sale in Myanmar. TRAFFIC Bull. 17(1): 33-44.

McNeil, Jr., D. 1997. The fencing in of Africa. The New York Times Magazine December 14(Section 6): 70-74. (Wildlife management)

Melikadze, K. 1997. The Georgian Center for Conservation of Wildlife. Russian Conservation News 13: 13-14.

Mendonca Filho, C. 1996. Brauna, Angico, Jacaranda e outras Leguminosas de Mata Atlantica: Estacao Biologica de Caratinga, Minas Gerais. Fundacao Botanica Margaret Mee/Fundacao Biodiversitas, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. 100 pp.

Menner, A. 1997. Odessa oil terminal threatens the Black Sea. Russian Conservation News 13: 28-31.

Mills, K. and Vargas, H. 1997. Current status, analysis of census methodology, and conservation of the Galapagos penguin, Speniscus mendiculus. Noticias de Galapagos 58: 8- 15.

National Wildlife Federation. 1998. Conservation Directory . National Wildlife Federation, Vienna, Virginia.

Noss, R., O'Connell, M. and Murphy, D. 1997. The Science of Conservation Planning. Habitat Conservation under the Endangered Species Act. Island Press, Covelo, California. 272 pp.

Oldfield, S. 1997. Cactus and Succulent Plants - Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Cactus and Succulent Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, U.K. 212 pp.

Ovsyanikov, N. 1997. Ecological tourism in the Russian Arctic. Russian Conservation News 13: 38-41.

Pimentel, D., Wilson, C., McCullum, C., Huang, R., Dwen, P., Flack, J., Tran, Q., Saltman, T. and Cliff, B. 1997. Economic and environmental benefits of biodiversity. BioScience 47(11): 747-757. (Totals $300 billion in the U.S.)

Pinkney, A., Murphy, D. and McGowan, D. 1997. Characterization of Endangered Dwarf Wedgemussel (Alasmidonta heterodon) Habitats in Maryland. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C. 156 pp.

Pooley, T. 1997. Long in the tooth. BBC Wildlife 15(2): 62-68. (Threatened Nile crocodile)

Primack, R., Bray, D., Galletti, H. and Ponciano, I. (Eds). 1997. Timber, Tourists, and Temples. Conservation and Development in the Maya Forest of Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico. Island Press, Covelo, California. 420 pp.

Pushkarev, S. and Shvarts, E. 1997. A review of computerized inventories of the biota of protected areas in the former Soviet Union. Russian Conservation News 13: 14.

Pushnikova, G. 1997. Will the population of the Sakhalin- Hokkaido herring disappear from the industrial supply? Russian Conservation News 13: 19-21.

Puzanski, V. 1997. Reappearance of the Dhole in Russia. Russian Conservation News 13: 22-24. (Red dog)

Pye-Smith, C. 1997. Friendly fire. New Scientist 156(2108): 24-25. (Traditional slash-and-burn farmers in Asia teach ecologists about sustainable development)

Rogers, M. and the Rarities Committee. 1997. Report on rare birds in Great Britain in 1996. British Birds 90(11): 453- 522.

Sauer, L. 1997. The Once and Future Forest. A Guide to Forest Restoration Strategies. Island Press, Covelo, California. 350 pp.

Sedjo, R. and Botkin, D. 1997. Using forest plantations to spare natural forests. Environment 39(10): 14-20, 30.

Short, J., Turner, B., Risbey, D. and Carnamah, R. 1997. Control of feral cats for nature conservation, II. Population reduction by poisoning. Wildlife Research 24(6): 703-714.

Simberloff, D., Schmitz, D. and Brown, T. (Eds). 1997. Strangers in Paradise. Impact and Management of Nonindigenous Species in Florida. Island Press, Covelo, California. 479 pp.

Simons, M. 1997. A delicate Pacific seaweed is now a monster of the deep. New York Times (Int.) August 16: 1,4. (Caulerpa taxifolia, threatening marine life in the western Mediterranean)

Stattersfield, A., Crosby, M., Long, A. and Wege, D. 1997. Endemic Bird Areas of the World: Priorities for Biodiversity Conservation. BirdLife International, Cambridge, England. 860 pp.

Suplee, C. 1977. Reclusive forest owlet spotted after disappearing for century. Washington Post December 28: A3. (India)

Tripp, M. 1997. Ecotourism in Baikal's protected areas. Russian Conservation News 13: 37-38.

Tucker, G. and Evans, M. (Compilers). 1997. Habitat for Birds in Europe: a Conservation Strategy for the Wider Audience. BirdLife International, Cambridge, England. 464 pp.

Turbak, G. 1998. Seeking the missing lynx. Nat. Wildlife 36(1): 18-25. (USA)

Tye, A. 1997. Rediscovery of an "extinct" endemic plant - the Floreana flax Linum cratericola. Noticias de Galapagos 58: 3.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1997. Recovery Plan for the Rare Species of Soldier Meadows. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C. 68 pp.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1997. Recovery Plan for the Maui Plant Cluster (Hawaii). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C. 210 pp.

Vasiliev, A. 1997. The problem of stray dogs and conservation. Russian Conservation News 13: 36-37.

Vinogradov, V. 1997. Biodiversity conservation: from lists of valuable sites to units of protection and management. Russian Conservation News 13: 34-35.

White, D. and Ratzlaff, J. 1997. Recovery Plan for Arabis perstellata Braun (Braun's Rockcress). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C. 30 pp.

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