Queensland Natural History Award 2012 – Peter Bostock

Peter Bostock was a member of the Queensland Naturalists’ Club Inc. in his youth. Thus his interest in Natural History preceded his professional career as a botanist. After graduating in Science from the University of Queensland with a major in mathematics, he worked in the Main Roads Department in computer systems analysis and design. He developed an interest in ferns and completed a Master of Science degree in botany and was employed at the Queensland Herbarium in 1989 where he now holds the position of Senior Botanist.

Peter has over 20 years experience in botanical taxonomic research, particularly in ferns which are notorious for their complex taxonomy. He is an invaluable resource among taxonomic botanists interested in identifying ferns and fern allies throughout Australia and is recognised as such by all the Australian Herbaria including the National one.

His duties at the Queensland Herbarium include the curation of some 20 angiosperms and over 40 fern families. These duties also require him to keep taxonomic and nomenclature records.This has led him to become the computer data expert at the Queensland Herbarium, responsible for the computerisation of the herbarium database.

Peter has written a set of free-ware programs which enable botanical latin text to be interpreted in english and various foreign languages. He is a member of the team undertaking the LUCID key to Australian grasses at Queensland Herbarium necessitating a knowledge of digital imaging and graphical storage.

By applying his understanding of the “accounting” procedures of Herbarium loans, he has enhanced the data entry and specimen loan process.

Peter’s studies in numerical analysis, cytology and descriptive morphology have led him to research the different and often conflicting methodologies used by taxonomists. He has concluded that modern taxonomy must consider more than just morphological similarities and that there must be some limit to the amount of variation allowed in a species.

His interests also include further studies on the taxonomy of Queensland ferns, generic delimitation within the family Polypodiaceae, an interactive information system of Australian ferns and their relatives and the updating of the program that translates botanical Latin to English and the internet display and dissemination of herbarium information.

Peter’s communication record is impressive, much of his published work appearing in “Flora of Australia”. His annual list of “New Plant Names and Taxa” has been of great assistance to those working and publishing on native plants, especially members of the Society for Growing Australian Plants.

Besides his inolvment in several advisory committees, he was granted an award in appreciation for his taxonomic contribution to a Lycopodium eradication program in the Everglades of the US.

In Summary, Peter Bostock is a professional botanist who very successfully integrates his computer and mathematical skills into his botanical work. Although he is involved with research at the Queensland Herbarium and has a detailed knowledge of fern morphology and taxonomy, he has still made time to assist local amateurs, particularly with regard to fern identification and growing methods. His botanical expertise however extends far beyond the field of ferns and he has also assisted in other identifications and also with computers and digital photography.

Because of the great contribution he has made to the knowledge of plant taxonomy, distribution and growth characteristics, particularly in regard to the fern flora and the effort he has contributed to local organisations such as SGAP, Peter Bostock is a very worthy recipient of the 2012 Queensland Natural History Award.

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