Volume V, Number 3, July 1998

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group photo

SURINAME FINAL REPORT. As promised in our last issue, here is co-PI Barry Hammel's account of his recent adventures in the Surinamese outback: "For me, this was a very much needed, thoroughly enjoyed, working holiday-from-the-office. Suriname is roughly four times the size of Costa Rica and, except for a coastal strip of agriculture and savannas, is one huge, lowland forest. There are a few mountains and isolated rock peaks (inselbergs), the highest not much over 1000 m; so, in spite of its size, its relatively low topographical diversity may mean that it has not many more species of plants than Costa Rica. The reason for this trip, by river into the Oelemari watershed in the southeastern corner of the country, was to collect in an area never before visited by biologists, to add collections to the national inventory, and to create a database for assessment of a possible protected area. I had two excellent and stimulating Surinamese assistants, partly by means of whom I was able to collect 600 numbers during the month-long trip. I concentrated on large monocots, shrubs and trees, they mostly on smaller things. My colleague Ramblin' Joe Evans, who invited me on the expedition, climbed and collected trees. We got to no higher than about 400 m. The areas we visited were mostly periodically inundated, riverine, legume-dominated forests with some small hills. Except for occasional patches of Euterpe, Astrocaryum and Mauritia, large palms were not nearly as abundant nor diverse as in similarly wet lowland forests in Costa Rica. The highlights of the trip, encapsulated: cultural diversity to an extreme; fishing for añumara and piraña; collecting to our hearts' content and muscles' ache in an area never before explored botanically; swimming every day with impunity in piraña-infested waters; gourmet camp food, including such delights as spicy peanut soup with crab meat, bitter eggplant with smoked añumara, and bomba, the Surinamese version of an African-origin, spicy-hot soup with okra, mustard greens, all the usual tropical starchy roots, and smoked fish; white sand, black water, swamp-forest; Rapateaceae, Rhabdodendron., and Sloanea megacarpa."

TALLER DE PLANTAS. The dates have been set (4--6 August, 1998) for a workshop at INBio, to develop inventory and product strategies for botany, focusing on five conservation areas: Arenal, Tempisque, Amistad Pacífico and Atlántico, and Osa. Local and foreign botanists with many years of experience in the tropics have been invited. This is a direct result of the recent major funding INBio has received from the Netherlands.

M. Kappelle

AN OLD FRIEND RETURNS. Maarten Kappelle, ecologist, expert in tropical highland cloud-forests, and co-author of the recent new species Roldana scandens Poveda & Kappelle (Asteraceae), has been hired by INBio. After finishing his Ph.D. work about three years ago, he returned home to the Netherlands with his Costa Rican wife. Now, a two-year contract has him in charge of ecological mapping with the GIS department at INBio. Welcome back, Maarten, and may the best team (World Cup soccer) win!

LATEST COLLECTING HOT-SPOT. Over the course of the last two years, many exciting specimens have been received from collectors working out of Estación Santa Elena, Parque Nacional Chirripó, and Estación Pittier, Parque Internacional La Amistad (see under "Leaps and Bounds" in the present issue), both on the Pacific slope of the Cordillera de Talamanca. This zone (above ca. 1600 m), which has received scant botanical attention in the past, is now getting its due. Parataxonomists Evelio Alfaro, Billen Gamboa, and Annia Picado, who have spearheaded the effort, are hard at work (with fellow parataxonomist and illustrator Francisco Quesada) on a guide to the plants of the area. Billen, by the way, is a son of William Gamboa, revered mountaineer and field-coordinator of Talamancan expeditions dating back to the heroic efforts of MO's Gerrit Davidse, in 1983-1984.