TECHNO


COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY AIDS COLLECTIONS

The management of Kew's Living Collections is being aided by a powerful new mapping system (KewScape). For the first time this provides a graphic representation of the Gardens and collections. The system, which is integrated with the Living Collections Database, combines a portable screen-based data collection unit, Gridpad, and the Autocad CAD (Computer Aided Design) package. Initially the tree collections have been entered into the system. A wide range of future applications is planned, including tree maintenance records, habitat management at Kew and Wakehurst Place, and direct entry of field information on expeditions.

Above: Gridpad being used by Steve Ruddy

Contact: John Lonsdale (0181-332 5543)

Email: John Lonsdale


SYSTEMATICS

The computer-drawn pollen grains above illustrate three of the 95 morphological character states being used by Madeline Harley to describe the pollen of palms in a new computer database, written using the ALICE biodiversity database system. Data are being compiled from over 10 years of light and electron microscope studies on palm pollen by the Palynology Unit; so far, species data for two of the six subfamilies have been entered. The database will link to the palm database (also written using ALICE) and provide an important tool for systematic, pollination of fossil pollen studies both within the palms and within the wider context of the monocotyledons.

Contact Madeline Harley (0181-332 5266)

Email: Madeline Harley


Kew's anatomy literature database was the source for Mary Gregory's Bibliography of Systematic Wood Anatomy of the Dicotyledons, published by IAWA in August (ISBN 90 71236 22 6, price $ 60). Containing over 2,400 annotated references and indexed by family, it is the only publication of its kind and will be indispensable to plant anatomists, taxonomists forest botanists, palaeobotanists and archaeologists.

Contact: Mary Gregory (0181-332 5325)

Email: Mary Gregory


INTERPRETATION

PLATO, Kew's joint project with the National Poisons Unit (Guy's Hospital) to produce an image-based computerized system for poisonous plant identification, has recently completed its first evaluation phase in 12 hospitals and one Poisons Information Centre. High levels of user confidence were reported with 96% indicating that they would be "always" or "usually confident" of an identification made by PLATO. Recently the system has been recorded onto CD-ROM to facilitate beta-testing that is currently under-way in a number of hospitals. Negotiations with publishers are continuing.

STOP PRESS: PLATO has just received an Information Technology Award for 1994 from the British Computer Society.

Contact: Christine Leon (0181-332 5702)

Email: Christine Leon


CONSERVATION

Following Seed Bank consultancies in Svalbard, the SADC countries, Turkey and Morocco, for various international agencies, the Seed Conservation Section has established methods to size seed drying and long term storage facilities. During 1994, the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) funded the section to formalize this information into a computer program for modelling the likely requirements of any facility. With the aid of Fir Tree Computer Systems of Billingshurst, the program has been completed and IPGRI is now running trials.

Above: Pete Atkinson entering data into the Micropropagation and Conservation Database.

Contact: Simon Linington (0181-332 5075)

Email: Simon Linington


The Micropropagation Unit and the LCD Conservation Unit are jointly developing a database system based on BG-Base (developed by Dr Kerry Walter) for the storage and maintenance of references, micropropagation protocols, contacts and projects, funded by a donation from the Esmée Fairbairn Charitable Trust. Both units have a large volume of reference material and to date over 2,000 references have been entered. The database is also used to store contact information and manage mailing lists. The LCD Conservation Unit is maintaining a bibliography database primarily relating to plant conservation, particularly re-introductions, restorations and recovery programs, in collaboration with the WCMC and the Re-introduction Specialist Group of the IUCN.

Contact: Pete Atkinson (0181-332 5570)

Email: Pete Atkinson


Return to Opening Page