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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Another fine issue of "Calodema"

Trevor Hawkeswood keeps up a high standard with his latest issue of "Calodema", "An Australian biological journal devoted to promoting knowledge about the flora and fauna of Australia and the Pacific". Volume 4, with the now familiar cover illustration of the magnificent Australian jewel beetle, Calodema regale, includes some observations that will intrigue anyone interested in natural history.

Of particular importance is the report by Trevor of two new populations of the rare plant Zieria involucrata. This shrub is listed under the New South Wales Threatened Species Conservation Act (1995) as "Endangered", according to the recently issued popular book, "Seldom Seen: Rare Plants of Greater Sydney" by Alan Fairley (published by Reed New Holland in 2004). Fairley's book contains some useful background on this plant and an illustration of the "large flowerheads and softly hairy leaves" typical of the species. Dr Hawkeswood reports two populations of 25 and 10 individuals respectively in the rugged sandstone ridgetop habitat within the Lower Portland area of north-western Sydney. The exact locality is kept secret for the safety of the species. Trevor discusses the conservation status of the plant.

Dr Dewanand Makhan continues his work on new species, particularly water beetles and particularly from Suriname in South America. Also included is his report of three new jumping spiders (Salticidae) from the same country.

Other papers included in this issue of Calodema cover a specialty of Dr Hawkeswood's, namely studies on beetle host plants, both of the larvae and adults.

Paul O Downey is listed as a specialist on parasitic plant species. It seems he works at the Cooperative Research Centre for Weed Management Systems here in Australia. He recently (1998) published an inventory of host species for aerial mistletoe species in Australia. Trevor Hawkeswood cites this inventory in two papers in the latest Calodema on observations on Australian native mistletoes parasitising introduced trees, namely a pear tree and - most extraordinarily - the London plane tree (Platanus). Trevor suggests that, with the decline of eucalypts (the usual host of the Australian mistletoe, Dendrophthoe vitellina) in the area of observation, the parasitic plant appears to be broadening its host range in order to survive. All sixteen London plane trees in the main street of Riverstone, New South Wales, were observed to be heavily parasitised. The mistletoe was not apparently having any serious effects on the host.

My only complaint about this issue is that it lacks the usual index.

Dr Trevor Hawkeswood, the Editor of "Calodema", can be contacted at the following email address: spilopyra@hotmail.com

Julian

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