Materials and Methods
A number of landcare groups were contacted to seek their input into the project. Those who showed an interest were supplied with a checklist of native species of Central Queensland. They were also supplied with a data entry book to assist them with the recording of information, such as location, aspect, soil type and plant characteristics. Some of these volunteers collected and sent seeds to CQU, along with plant specimens.
Seed Collection and Processing
Field trips were undertaken by CQU staff to collect seeds from a number of plant communities. Emphasis was placed on collecting seeds of species for which little information was available, and this included trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, sedges and forbs. Seed bearing plant material was brought back to CQU and were air dried in polystyrene boxes until the seeds could easily be separated. The seeds were separated using various techniques (Langkamp 1984), and the cleaned seeds were treated with CO2 for 3-5 days prior to storing them in a cool room which is maintained at 10 °C with <50% relative humidity.
The seeds were tested for germination soon after collection. Seeds (10-20) were placed in a take- away tubs (100-500 mL capacity) containing washed pasteurised river sand. For each species three replications were used. The take-away containers were placed in a controlled environment room which was maintained at a day/night temperatures of 30/25 °C. Germination counts were taken once every week for up to 3 months and those that failed to germinate within this time were transferred to a glasshouse for a further three months of observation. The seeds that failed to germinate over six months were declared as having some dormancy problem.
Seeds of some selected species were also placed in four storage conditions, viz a garden shed (10-45 °C), room temperature (25 °C), cool room (6-10 °C) and a freezer (<0 °C). Some of these were tested for germination at 12 or 18 months. The stored seed are also planned to be tested at 36, 48 and longer periods (subject to funding availability) to determine optimum storage conditions.
A database has been designed using Microsoft Access, to store the data on seeds, seed germination, plant uses and other attributes of native plants. The plant specimens that were collected along with the seeds were curated and the names of some of these species have been confirmed with the help of Dr Laurie Jessup and his colleagues of Queensland herbarium, Brisbane.
An electronic key has also been prepared using LUCID for identification of native plants of CQ (STUDENT KEY FOR THE FLORA OF CQ; with the funding from CQU and kind supply of photos by Mr and Mrs Pearson). Several other projects also investigated vegetative propagation and tissue culture of local native species (see Midmore 2000; http://www.ahs.cqu.edu.au/info/science/psg/research/research.htm).
Herbarium specimens have been collected, where possible, along with the seeds. They were dried, mounted and identified locally or with the assistance of Queensland Herbarium, Brisbane. The specimens are stored in the cool room.
It was intended to place the entire database on the website, so that the users could query the database for desired information. However, due to non-availability of software (in 1999) that could query the database on the web, it was decided to construct the website using standard format.
This website therefore contains selected information such as:
- images of the herbarium specimens
- images of the seeds
- seed germination data
- seed storage data
- pre-germination treatments and responses
In some cases, seeds of more than one provenance have been tested for germination, and the results of these provenances are presented separately, so that the provenance differences, if any, can be appreciated (eg see data of Acacia bancroftii). The web users are therefore requested to consult the data of all provenances within a species before any conclusions are drawn about a species.