International Dendrological Research Institute
Conifers Around the World
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Abies koreana, endemic fir to Korea
Recording and documenting species and habitats has been the DDP team's ongoing activity for over three decades, resulting in the accumulation of several thousand drawings, 120,000 photographs and negatives and 65,000 color transparencies (as of April 2000), 80,000 different collections (accession) of plant samples represented by 450,000 specimens (2000), all of which serves as background material for the descriptions, scientific statements and for exchange of information. The project, primary beneficiary of IDRI since 1991, was started by multi-lingual researchers (DDP Team) from the Museum of Natural History in Budapest, with three years background as Mercer Fellows and Visiting Scientists in the United States at Harvard University 's Arnold Arboretum. Their focus is to study and record morphological flexibility and variability of species in different habitats, stimulate systematic and synecological-environmental studies and to record the woody species (about 6,000 species with 7,000 varieties and forms), wherever it is possible in their old growth habitats within the Temperate Zones and including their marginal tropical habitats (particularly subtropical China and the high mountains of tropical Mexico).
The DDP team's research covers the majority of the land area of the Earth. The most florisitically diverse parts of the Earth are also the regions with the highest human population. Therefore, these are the regions with the most urgent need for consistent recording and conservation efforts.
IDRI research expeditions have resulted in the discovery of several new species and have led directly to local conservation activity. The worldwide scope of IDRI's research has yielded a wealth of images of old growth forests, unique habitats and diverse plant communities.
Why the DDP?
Dendrology (dendron = tree, logia = study of, in Greek) is the science of woody plants: trees, shrubs, and woody vines (the dendroflora). The dendroflora is the backbone of most vegetation types on Earth and the most endangered. The availability of data on the composition and constituents of this backbone is crucial.
A comprehensive, interconnected database (herbarium supported images) would be a subject of worldwide interest.
Securing access to and distribution of documentation toward a better understanding of the complicated inter relatedness in nature and encouraging conservational goals has an immediate priority.
An accessible database should serve as a motivation for further exploration of species and habitats, simultaneously providing data for science, conservation, and feedback for further expanding the database.
The Dendrological Atlas Project currently under development is planned to be a richly illustrated manual based on the DAP team's original field documentation and available information. The DAP is intended to serve a new generation having greater concern and sensitivity toward nature. Experiencing the beauty of nature page by page, both in detail and on a broader scale, and observing the scope of such complicated interrelationships should be a major step in growing responsibility toward our remaining natural environment. The accumulated information and database processing grew into the ongoing compilation of the Dendrological Atlas Volumes 1-4 (Conifers and other Gymnosperms of the Temperate zones and adjacent regions) with 8,500 photographs, 3,000 drawings and scientific descriptions, graphic and photographic introductions of the discussed species and their habitats. the backbone of the conifer volumes will be the 400 double pages showing all major Gymnospermae species on full plate drawings and photographs.
The text will report the species in five chapters:
IAC is the IDRI/DAP team's direct conservation activity, connected to field experience and immediate communication with local people. Its purpose is to stimulate local efforts and initiate fund raising for small-scale conservation of rare species and threatened habitats, focusing on the temperate zone and its marginal subtropical/tropical regions, mainly in communities of limited means. IAC has recently been active in 15 different regions, including several in which species new to science were discovered by the team. Saving the CITES-1 Abies guatamalensis habitat in collaboration with the local Zapotec community in Oaxaca, Mexico and working on a Chinese Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga sinensis) reserve in Zhong Yuan Liang, Yunnan province are two examples of ongoing efforts.
In accordance with our mission, the IDRI/DDP team has involved and supported Abkhazian, Chinese, Guatamalan, Hungarian, Mexican, and Chilean visiting scientists while working with 127 Earthwatch volunteers from different parts of the world.
History - Results
In 1971, a small group of nature scientists and botanical artists at the Natural History Museum on Budapest, Hungary started to work on the consistent documentation of the dendroflora of the temperate zones. The DDP began with the goal of documenting woody plants, trees and shrubs, and their best habitats by creating a dendrological image (photo and drawing) collection backed with descriptions and corresponding scientific material (herbarium) as an interrelate, classical compilation. For public access to these collections, three approaches were anticipated:
The research and accumulation of material begun at NHM continued at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University (1991-98) as well as at both the Massachusetts-based nonprofit organization, IDRI, and the Hungarian Natural History Museum, resulting in the creation of a worldwide field documentation.
Debreczy Zs. - I. Rácz (1995) New species and varieties of conifers from Mexico. Phytologia 78(4) p. 217-243. Description of 4 new species and 6 new varieties found in Mexico.
The staff of the International Dendrological Research Institute includes Dr. Zsolt Debreczy, Research Director, IDRI; Dr. István Rácz,IDRI Research Associate (Hungarian Natural History Museum); Dr. Gyöngyvir Biro, Research Librarian, IDRI. The IDRI team has also included up to 12 full and part time people as well as hundreds of volunteers.
Zsolt Debreczy is Research Director of the International Dendrological Research Institute, Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, a position he has held since 1990. He holds a Ph.D. in biology and began his career as curator of the higher plant collection at the Botanical Department of the Natural History Museum in Budapest, Hungary. Beginning in 1988, he spent three years as a Mercer Fellow and Visiting Scientist at the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University. In 1991 he became Research Director of the Massachusetts-based (USA) International Dendrological Research Institute, Inc. (IDRI), and in 1994 was a founding member of the International Dendrological Foundation. He organized and led the many explorations worldwide that provided the material for the Dendrological Documentation Project including the book Conifers Around the World.
István Rácz holds a Ph.D. in forest botany and is curator of the conifer collection at the Botanical Department of the Hungarian Natural History Museum. He is an associate of the International Dendrological Research Institute Inc., Massachusetts, USA and member of the board of the International Dendrological Foundation. He has worked with Zsolt Debreczy since 1975. With Debreczy, he was a Mercer Fellow and Visiting Scientist at the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University from 1988 to 1991. He participated in most of the field-work that made Conifers Around the World possible in addition to contributing the high-quality, artistic photographs and managing the back-ground documentation. Dr. Rácz's photographs are also widely used in botanical and horticultural publications.
Dr. Gyöngyi Biro
Dr. Gyöngyi Biro was assistant leader of the microbiological laboratory of Hungarovin (Hungarian Viniculture Company), Budapest (1974-1978) before she joined the research library of the Museum of Natural History in 1979. Working primarily with the DDP team, she has been participating in all phases of the preparation of the atlas, and took part in most of the collecting and documentation tasks of the project. Her focus in botanical activity was editorial work, mainly in context with the 250 publications, including 15 books, which the DDP team produced either as original work or as translation with regional application. Her studies in (bryo-) micro-ecology resulted in her dissertation in 1983. She was an associate researcher with Dr. Debreczy as Mercer Fellow and Visiting Scientist (1988-1991) at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. She is currently research librarian of IDRI.
For further information about IDRI research activities, the atlas project, or the archives you can contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to us at:
Dendrological Research Institute