Protea Atlas Logo
  Overview of Project
  Project Staff
  Checking, Illustrations
  Upcoming Activities
  Id and  Species Lists
  Protea Information
  Protea Gallery
  Growing Proteas
  Interim Dist. Maps
  Afrikaanse Inligting


Comments on the Atlas

Protea Atlas LogoThe following comments on the content of The Atlas were received. There is still time for you to propose your visions or critically respond to the comments below.

The following are thanked for comments (although their exact contributions below remain anonymous, they are listed in order of the magnitude of their contribution): Nick Helme, Hugo Leggat, Stephen Richardson, Nigel Forshaw, and Yvette van Wijk.

Name Headings

  • I think the Latin name should take preference to the two common names, i.e. it should be above them as the most easily seen name on the page, with this repeated as a header for the map page.
  • Please put in a few lines in the text explaining some of the scientific and common names. Often these are useful insights into the species’ ecology, discovery and use.
  • Most people who will read the atlas will not understand the common name, I suspect. I really don't mind though.
  • Meanings of species names to be included at the top of the text (as in the Erica Pocket guide to the Peninsula).
  • Full names of authors, rather than abbreviations, would be appreciated by the uninitiated.
  • Please include date of discovery and naming.
  • Where are the ethnic names?

Readable Format

  • I'm not sure that I like your decision to use "readable format", rather than a "summarized format". At the very least, please cut out redundant words in category descriptions, as these are nothing but annoying, such as saying "78.3% were Variable" - just put Variable 78.3%, Widespread 2%, etc. Also cut out ' Out of ..." just put "350 records; 80% Variable, etc.". I think this would be a good compromise between readable and summarized formats.
  • Histograms are generally ordered with respect to magnitude of the attribute (Population, Height, Slope, Alien Density, etc.) rather than frequency. The text description should do likewise. A fresher, crisper version of the text would then become:
    Population: Of 695 records, 20% are Scarce, 56% Frequent, 24% Common and 0.1% Abundant.
  • From a statistical point of view it would be better to record the actual number where the total sample is less than 100. For example: Pollinators – 26 records: 84.6% birds, ... 3.8% mammals. This actually means 22 birds and 1 mammal - which is much clearer. On the next line (with more records) numbers are used for pollinator details.
  • A number of people I showed the proposed layout to found the redundant words very irritating and entirely senseless, i.e. for the Categories, cut out 75% "were" Variable - strong vote to leave it short sweet and non wordy - this is data we are presenting, not an essay!
  • I prefer the tabulated format such as Landform (751) DS: 82% etc. The repetition of a word like "were" becomes tedious, as in 82% were Deep Soil, 16% were shallow soil etc. Also it saves a great deal of space.
  • I would suggest for samples greater than 100, use %:
    682 samples: 96,3% DS, 2,8% SS, 0,4% SW.
    But for samples smaller than 100, use actual numbers:
    82 samples: 75 DS, 6 SS, 1 SW.
  • The third significant figure in % frequencies detracts from the presentation and should be dropped (at least in the text version) to make it more readable and save space.
  • Records are abstract and not literally "found" or "seen" as for the plants. Drop these verbs and the "out" in "out of" and save space.
  • Present tense is preferable for descriptions. Replace "were" with "are" and/or delete repetitive use of the same verb within lists and save space.
  • For "fire survival" 8 records 62.5 killed by fires, 27.5 survived. I presume these are % - in which case they should add up to 100, but I’d prefer 5 killed, 3 survived.
  • Replace "Present" (which includes Frequent through Abundant) with "Scarce" for population.
  • I suggest that "redundant" words are left out.

Histograms of Flowering and Growth

  • The flowering histogram for Ls prcx is quite difficult to interpret because there are so many different forms of shading and no key. I would suggest that each histogram have a key. Some people, I know, won't look at the histogram and they will say they don't understand it. Is this a document for the scientific community or the atlasser? Does this make a difference as to whether you include histograms or not?
  • Maybe you just chose odd examples, but I assume that the flowering and growth histograms are not always identical! In fact, I think the text version of the histograms for flowering/fruiting time is fine - I would do away with the histograms, as this would save a lot of space.
    (The histograms are not properly shown in PAN 52 – see the web for the colour version as proposed).
  • Plan view of a half-open inflorescence (showing typical size, number of flowers, centrifugal/centripetal flowering, etc.) to accompany each flowering histogram. <Sorry, these don’t exist>
  • I'm not sure I understand the histograms without the colour, but the allowing of "both summer and winter trends to be clearly visible" is what matters.
  • Plan view of a mature leaf (showing typical size, shape, number of mucrons, etc.) to accompany each growth histogram. <Sorry, these don’t exist>
  • Peak Flowering is going to look odd in black if Bud, Flowering, and Over are in red on the Flowering histogram.
  • "Cone" should be shown all year round for serotinous species on the flowering histogram.
  • Keys for frequency are needed on all histograms.

Distance to sea

  • I think you should also cut the Distance to Sea category - this is rendered totally redundant when maps are produced, and is a pretty useless piece of info anyway.

Red Data Book status

  • RDB status must be included under Conservation Status and Threat category. I think this information will be used extensively for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) work, and if a species is rare or threatened it needs to be made very clear.
  • I think RDB status must be included. Also a synopsis on how status has changed over the years will be useful. This will make the book more useful to conservationists.
  • If you are going to assess RDB status using Protea Atlas data, you must include it in The Atlas.

Map content

  • The maps must have all main secondary (dirt) roads indicated if the scale allows, otherwise rivers and main tar roads is fine. For very small range species it may be an idea to include Trig. Beacons and perhaps cadastral boundaries. I think a small orientation map would help most people for the fine scale maps.
  • Do all maps have to have the same features on them or can some include railway lines, trig beacons and others not? Depending on the granularity of the species distribution, this surely determines what features can be shown on the maps.
  • I think the maps are OK. I see that they will be leaving out the detailed sampling localities to avoid clutter and this should clear things up. The small orientation map should be a good idea.
  • When there is no coastline or definite big town the maps are just not understandable! I am not sure if I have the wrong end of the stick but those on the web and in PAN are not user friendly.
  • Ecotourist-friendly biodiversity hotspots and/or type localities for as many species as possible (preferably within reserves) to be identified on maps to make the Atlas more attractive and potentially boost sales.
  • I hope that the unusual forms, ecotypes and the distribution of different characters within a species will also be shown on the maps for variable species.
  • Orientation maps, north pointers, and scale bars should definitely be included on all maps.
  • Some indication of altitude/relief/montane vs lowland setting to be shown on all maps.
  • Selective labeling of rivers, roads, reserves and even peaks should be considered.
  • Roads in red and rivers in black, if blue or green is not available.

Photo pages

  • A few well chosen photos would probably make it more saleable, and I would suggest perhaps a rogues gallery of all the new species, the three (or five) most atlassed species, and perhaps a special one from every other genus not already pictured in the above categories. Seeing that it's an atlas, how about some pictures showing proteas in all the main habitats in which they occur, e.g. coastal to alpine, snow to xeric, Fynbos to Subtropical Forest?
  • Is this a scientific document or one for atlassers, Mr Public, Nature Conservation and DEAT officials? A line drawing to me is dead boring. I would ideally like to see as many photographs as possible. Even if there is a mosaic or collage of small pictures all lumped in one part of the atlas this would still be cool.
  • Photographs of proteas are available in the field guides. What should be included in the atlas are pictures that you cannot find elsewhere. For instance, habitat shots, some peculiar forms of species, pictures of atlassers atlassing, historical photographs illustrating loss of protea habitat or special plants.
  • If this is an atlas of data collected by amateurs, should not the top contributors also be featured in the photographic spread?
  • I don't know that any photo pages are justified, other than perhaps some good ones for the cover, frontispiece, etc.

Additional Musts:

  • Please summarize the Additional Remarks for each species in The Atlas as well. There must be a wealth of interesting titbits and ecological information submitted to the project.
  • A section highlighting special areas for seeing proteas - either rare species or hotspots of lots of species - needs to be included for encouraging an interest in plants.
  • A chapter on how well the project met its original objectives and what can be done in future to achieve the maximum potential of such a project.
  • A chapter on discoveries of new species and range extensions, perhaps graded in order of sensation (or otherwise, chronologically).
  • A chapter on "What now?" How is it envisaged that the atlas data will be used in the future and where has it been used so far?
  • Please include a paragraph on uses of and historical anecdotes for each species.
  • At least one page of peoples’ comments.
  • A chapter on unresolved problems.
  • A chapter of atlasser's anecdotes.

Tony Rebelo

Back PAN 53