Series List and Summary Descriptions

S001 The life and work of Alec Costin

This series contains a broad selection of material related to Alec Costinís life and work including publications, unpublished work and related documents. The following record sets, which relate to three of Costinís seminal works, exemplify the broad range of Costinís prolific writing and related documents included in this series:

1. The original manuscript - together with related photographs, maps and correspondence - for the report "High mountain catchments in Victoria in relation to land use", which was eventually published by the Victorian Soil Conservation Authority in 1957.

2. The publication "Trends in Vegetation at Kosciusko" (Parts I, II and III) as published in the Australian Journal of Botany in 1978. Related aerial photographs of sites are also included with these articles. This publication was the culmination of three decades of painstaking work undertaken within the CSIRO, Soil Conservation agencies in both New South Wales and Victoria and finally at the Australian National University as a visiting fellow. The publication and a large collection of associated research data and photographs (contained mainly in the respective series listed below in this finding aid) along permanent transects established in alpine areas, constitute one of the most important legacies for environmental science and conservation in Australia.

3. A diverse collection of documents related to the publication (in 2000) of the second edition of his influential book "Kosciuszko Alpine Flora" including many sections of draft writing and editorial comments, as well as correspondence with his co-authors Dane Wimbush, Max Gray and Colin Totterdell; the publishers (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, CSIRO); and organisations such as the Australian Alps Liaison Committee.

The series also includes talks by Alec Costin, interviews with him and publications written by other authors that focus on his life and work. In addition, it contains Costin's curriculum vitae, lists of his publications and a small number of documents related to his personal life.

This series constitutes a crucial resource for telling the story of Alec Costinís life and work; engendering important insights into Alec Costinís publications and how they came to fruition, whilst also giving a unique perspective on his personal and professional background, and how his research and policy work evolved in relation to key Australian scientific and conservation bodies such as the Soil Conservation Service of New South Wales, the CSIRO, the Australian National University, the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Institute of Alpine Studies.

Provenance: Alec Baillie Costin


S002 Research data and related documents

This series comprises an extensive collection of various kinds of data used in Costin's research, such as numerical data, field notes, graphs and tables together with related correspondence, publications and other documents. This broad range of records address Costinís research in the following interconnected areas:

* Alpine, sub-alpine and polar ecology

* Hydrology

* Soil science

* Historical ecology - including research on glaciation and on the role of past climates in the ecology of the Australian Alps

* Resource management - including research on soil conservation, water management, effects of grazing, and fire

* Biogeography - in particular the study of the interaction of vegetation and the wider environment (sometimes referred to as "Phytogeography")

Importantly, several inventory items in this series contain data collected from the plots and quadrats (small demarcated areas up to a few square meters in area) and transects (lines along which a series of quadrats are placed) that Costin established to measure long-term changes in vegetation and to inform studies of the hydrology in in Australian high mountain areas. These inventory items variously include data sheets, notes, tables, graphs, maps, grazing measurements dating from the 1950s through to the 1980s, relating to the Kosciusko area, Curruthers, Gungartan, Boggy Plains North, Yarrangobilly and other locations.

The series also contains a broad selection of other related records which provide important context for the research data. One such related record is an official Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization file, dating from 1967 to 1968, which includes correspondence, references and photographs regarding the development of air-borne radiometers for measuring the main terms of the energy budget equation to determine evapotranspiration over extensive vegetation surfaces. The documents in this file serve to contextualise several charts - included in this series - which were produced by similar air-borne instruments in flights over Mt Gambier, Jounama State Forest, Black Mountain, Cotter Valley and other locations in the mid-1960s.

The records contained in this series provide crucial information for researchers wishing to study the ongoing historical changes in Australian vegetation, hydrology and soils particularly in high mountain areas in NSW and Victoria. They also provide important insights into how various methodologies, techniques and equipment were developed to address environmental science and natural resource management research in Australia.

Provenance: Alec Baillie Costin


S003 Policy development and lobbying

This series includes a large and diverse selection of records related to Alec Costinís policy-development and lobbying work. The records refer mainly to the management of water issues on the South coast of NSW; world heritage and other conservation issues, including the establishment of the Australian Alps national park; grazing bans; fire management; and Costin's involvement with the Eurobodalla Shire Council Scientific Advisory Panel. The material in this series includes publications, reports, correspondence, conference proceedings, research data, meeting agendas and other documents.

This series provides important resources to show how Costin interacted with various Australian federal and state government agencies both as an advisor and lobbyist; how he was involved in various conservation and scientific organisations and the pivotal role that he played in the conservation and improved management of Australiaís natural environment, particularly in the Australian Alps but also in other areas such as the Upper Cotter catchment in New South Wales.

Provenance: Alec Baillie Costin


S004 Publications and reports

This series contains an extensive collection of publications and reports written by authors other than Alec Costin. The collection includes a wide range of scientific writing such as journal articles, research proposals, topographic maps and scholarly books but also more popular publications such as tourist maps, newspaper clippings and sales catalogues. It also includes related records such as correspondence, data, notes, drafts and a small number of photographs.

This series provides a unique insight into the publications which Costin drew on for his research and policy-related work. A large selection of correspondence related to this writing - between Costin and other authors - is also included, showing how he interacted with other authors and how their combined work contributed to the development of ecological research and conservation practices in Australia.

Provenance: Alec Baillie Costin


S005 Photographs: Transects, quadrats and plots

This series comprises a large collection of photographs, mainly of transects, quadrats and plots which Costin and his colleagues established in Australian high mountain areas to enable research on the vegetation, soils and hydrology of these environments. The photos in this series relate to two distinct methodologies. One is the long-term measurement of changes in mountain environments in relation to various factors such as grazing and fire. The other is experimentation using plots to study infiltration, run-off and erosion.

Most of the photographs in this series derive from the technique of stereo photography developed by Costinís colleague Dane Wimbush to measure and record changes in vegetation. As Wimbush and Costin wrote in the Australian Journal of Botany in 1979, the method proceeded first by taking "overlapping pairs of photographs with a vertically mounted camera" (Vol. 27, p. 750). Costin and Wimbush then produced black-and-white prints in stereo pairs over each of which they placed a 100 square grid before viewing them under a stereoscope to show a three-dimensional image which could be traced to measure and record the percentage cover of four broad classes of vegetation. (In later research, they used colour slides.) The stereo pairs in this series are in the form of black-and-white prints taken in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The series also contains a small number of related photographs (mainly of landscapes).

This series provides crucial data for the study of long-term changes in Australian high-mountain environments, but also allows researchers to gain insights into the development of photographic techniques and how they contributed to Costinís work.

Provenance: Alec Baillie Costin


S006 Photographs - other

This series contains a large and diverse collection of photographic prints, slides, negatives and proofs (excluding stereo photographs of transects, quadrats and plots - see series 005 in this finding aid) taken over the long course of Costinís career. The series includes photographs taken in Australia over several decades dating from 1954 - mainly in the alpine and sub-alpine areas of NSW Victoria, and Tasmania, but also in the sub-polar environment of Macquarrie Island. It also includes a large collection of other photographs of overseas locations such as Lappland, New Guinea, Alaska and Scotland. Furthermore, an extensive selection of largely unidentified photographs is also included in this series (although many of them are numbered).

This series provides important insights into Costinís research; his use of photography for research purposes; and the changing vegetation and landscapes in a wide variety of alpine, polar and high mountain environments in Australia and overseas.

Provenance: Alec Baillie Costin


Published by the eScholarship Research Centre, December 2019
Listed by Jack Roberts
HTML edition
Updated 9 January 2020

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