ATBI? A reality any longer or just hype?

Jim Croft jrc at ANBG.GOV.AU
Sun Mar 11 09:47:44 CST 2001

> Benefits to the HBS way: in 8 or so years we pretty much *know* what
> species we have in Hawaii

Not according to your website...  :)

Just cruised by the botany pages and that pinnacle of evolutionary
endeavour, the ferns and their allies, is not there...

nor are the bryopytes (=primitive ferns), but the flowering plants
(=abberant ferns) crack a mention, as do the algae, but it it appears
there are not Hawiian fungi or lichens either...  :)

If it is not published, preferably on the web, it effectively does not

> HBS has products to show people now.  Hard copies of checklists as
> well as web interfaces of databases.  We do not claim that this is the
> end-all. We continually update our products and encourage our
> colleagues to help us make a better product.

Still waiting to see a contemporary Fern Flora of Hawaii... :(
Has it happened yet?

The bottom line here is, regardless of the methodology, bums on seats
and hands on specimens is needed to make it happen...

For comparison with the Hawaiian situation you might want to have a look
at the Australian Biological Resourses Study and the Australian Biodiversity Information
Facility which has aims and
philosophy similar to the HBS.  Until recent time the emphasis has been
on the publication of printed material but the data is gradually being
migrated to the web as an alternative distribution mechanism.  Here too
the main impediment in the number of hands on deck in Australian
biological institutions...

Peter Stevens might be right in his assertion that the ATBI process as
currently practiced is conceptually flawed, but the quixotic nature of
an enterprise has never stopped science and systematics in the past...
and will never stop it in the future... If we are not in it, we will
not win it...  Even it they fail we will have learned something along
the way...


Sydney herbarium (NSW) celebrated their centenary last week.  As part of
the festivities they reenacted the director's opening speech of 100
years ago.  Very entertaining, but horrifying at the same time - they
words were as true today as they were then, the need for inventory and
documentation is still there and we are still asking the same questions,
for the same reasons.  A time capsule with items of comtemporary
herbarium activity was sealed, to be opened in a centuary's time.  I
wonder if we will have completed the task by then or whether Maiden's
opening speach will still make botanists smile, in part amusement, part
embarassment, and hope their political masters are not listening too
closely...  :) wants to finish the first pass of the task
in 25 years.  Seems like a good target to me...

Sorry, a bit of a digression - got carried away...

-- jim

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