2019 National Meeting

Cheryl Birker, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

The California Seed Bank at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden has a germination testing program to monitor the viability of its many conservation seed collections. Germination tests are conducted on all incoming seed collections before they are placed in freezer storage, and for all rare seed collections, follow-up germination tests are conducted periodically in order to monitor their viability throughout the storage term. Germination testing also allows for experimentation with different pretreatments for breaking seed dormancy to inform propagation protocols. Germination tests are conducted on agar and maintained in a temperature controlled germination chamber. Seeds must be treated with a bleach and Tween¨ solution to reduce microbial growth prior to sowing on agar, and this treatment must sometimes be repeated before the test is completed. Germination tests can run anywhere from two weeks to eight months, with weekly monitoring for new germinations and microbial growth. Seedlings are produced as a byproduct of germination testing, which can be transplanted from agar to soil and grown in a nursery for inclusion in a living collection or for second generation seed collecting as an extra means of ex-situ conservation.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Thursday, May 2, 2019

Tom Kaye, Institute for Applied Ecology

Golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta) is listed as threatened and has become regionally extinct in the southern portion of its range due to habitat conversion.  A few wild populations remain in Washington and British Columbia.  Efforts to conserve the species in Oregon have emphasized wild seed collection across multiple remnant WA populations, agricultural seed increase, plug planting and seeding into restoration sites and prairies, and follow up management (including mowing, burning, and seed addition to increase plant diversity).  Concurrent research has demonstrated that the species is a generalist hemiparasite that benefits from having multiple hosts, underscoring the need to maintain or enhance plant diversity at reintroduction sites.  In addition, field tests have helped narrow the habitat type in which the species will thrive.  Since 2010, the species has established and increased in Oregon dramatically through reintroduction on conserved public and private lands, to over 350,000 plants across 23 populations in 2018.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service is currently considering delisting the species due to these recent successes with population establishment.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Friday, May 3, 2019

Vanessa Handley, University of California Botanical Garden

University of California Botanical Garden (UCBG) has long been engaged in recovery efforts for State and Federally endangered large-flowered fiddleneck, Amsinckia grandiflora. Initially UCBG staff focused on creating a substantial seed bank for the species and, through nursery augmentation of wild-collections, generated a bank of over 100,000 seed (stored along maternal lines). In 2016, a subset of this seed was deployed for a large-scale reintroduction effort at three sites in San Joaquin County, California. The reintroduction was conducted in partnership with Vollmar Natural Lands Consulting (with funding from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation) and entailed cultivation and outplanting of over 4000 seedlings. This endeavor - made more challenging by severe terrain and freezing winter rains - resulted in modest persistence in 2017, followed by a banner spring in 2018. UCBG staff and volunteers completed a supplementary round of outplanting this past winter and, by March, all three introduction sites were awash with orange - the Amsinckia grandiflora Super Bloom! This exciting outcome was potentiated by engagement of diverse stakeholders: environmental consultants, multiple agency partners, public and private landowners and UCBG. While the taxon still has a long path to recovery, this preliminary success is a testament to the power of these partnerships. Our recovery implementation strategy will be discussed.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Friday, May 3, 2019

Tim Kroessig, Harold L. Lyon Arboretum

The Hawaiian flora represents ~45% of all plants listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as threatened or endangered. The Lyon Arboretum's Seed Conservation Laboratory (Lyon S.C.L.) conserves many of these imperiled plants through conventional seed banking. However, the seeds of many rare Hawaiian plants have never been formally described or photographed. Receiving fruit and seed collections from collectors across the Hawaiian Islands presents staff with a unique opportunity to document characteristics of these seeds through photography. Initially, we used a digital SLR camera to photograph incoming fruit and seed collections, but encountered challenges in accurately capturing the details of very small seeds. With limited knowledge of microscope photography and a modest budget, we decided to investigate a setup that could be utilized for seed photography. After some research into different brands and models, we decided on an Olympus SZ61 stereo microscope, with an LW Scientific Inc. MiniVid camera, and ToupTek's ToupView version 3.7 software. Using this microscope-camera setup we have captured more than 500 images of Hawaiian seeds representing over 150 taxa, including many C.P.C. sponsored species. As new material comes into the Lyon S.C.L., we continue to add new species to our seed photo collection and are working towards making these photos available to students and researchers through an online platform.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Friday, May 3, 2019

Stacy Anderson, Joe Davitt, Katie Heineman, David Hogan, Joyce Maschinski, and Tobin Weatherson, San Diego Zoo Global

Declining small populations may be supported through augmentation. To aid the smallest of five populations of the tiny endangered succulent, Dudleya brevifolia, The Chaparral Lands Conservancy approached the San Diego Zoo Global Plant Conservation team to augment the smallest population located on delicate sandstone bluffs of the Torrey Pines State Reserve Extension in Del Mar. On January 19, 2017, we germinated seed and grew plants in our nursery to learn about propagation needs. On January 4, 2019, we introduced 46 corms into two predesignated transect plots on two areas near the small extant population. Prior to planting, we cleaned each corm of potting soil, measured its length, assigned a unique id, and randomly designated it to a plot. On the installation day, we drilled holes in the sandstone to accommodate the corms, backfilled each with native soil, and watered. We noted the location of each introduced corm with a small nail and recorded x,y coordinates and GPS location using a sub-meter GPS. Later we buried 23 mm HDX pit tags next to the corms to ensure long-term location of each individual. Following installation, we monitored the status of each corm every two weeks. Thus far, we have noted aboveground growth of 8 individuals. However, we cannot determine if the corms are actively growing underground. We will continue to monitor the phenology of the corms this spring though it is possible that introduced corms are establishing underground and will not initiate aboveground growth until next spring.

Date Recorded: 
Friday, May 3, 2019

Talia Portner, Honolulu Botanical Gardens

Hawaii has approximately 1400 native plant species of which more than 90% are found nowhere else in the world. However, at least 30% of these species are endangered and 100 have already gone extinct due to land use change, ongoing pressure from introduced species, and the loss of pollinators and dispersers.To address these threats, Hawai'i has a well established conservation community with a history of partnerships between state, federal and private entities. The Honolulu Botanical Gardens (HBG) have great potential to provide living genebanks and access for botanical research for many of Hawai'i's rarest plants. The Gardens are comprised of five geographically separate grounds covering 650 acres across Oahu, including a historic urban arboretum, former picnic grounds of Hawaiian royalty, a mid-elevation garden, a large, wet habitat grounds with a reservoir, and even a volcanic crater. HBG's facilities not only provide an ideal habitat for living collections, but our dedicated staff serve as critical resource for protecting individual plants and providing information to our partners and the public. Although I am newly adopted into the botanical garden community as the HBG Horticulturist, I draw on the experience and challenges faced over 14 years of botanical field work with Hawaii's rarest plants with Oahu's Plant Extinction Prevention Program. I am now working with HBG staff and leadership to move the gardens towards an ecosystem conservation approach by which can build larger, ex-situ communities of Hawaiian species by working with my colleagues in the conservation community who specialize in collecting wild propagules as well as cutting edge seed storage and micropropagation technologies. Developing our role to manage living collections of Hawaiian plants will provide a critical resource for these conservation programs and help communicate the value of Hawaii's natural heritage to the public.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Friday, May 3, 2019

Anne Frances, NatureServe

Conservation Status Assessments evaluate species' risk of extinction and are therefore often the first step in prioritizing conservation actions. Red List Assessments (redlist.org) are widely used in globally while the NatureServe Network's Ranks are more commonly used in the United States and Canada. Although methodologies between the platforms differ, much of information needed for both types of assessments is the same. Expanding on the "Documentation and Data Sharing" chapter of the newly published CPC Best Practices, this presentation will focus on ways that CPC institutions can collect and transfer data to better inform conservation status assessments. Examples include documenting locality information, population size, and threats.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Friday, May 3, 2019

Shannon Fehlberg,Desert Botanical Garden

The Acu–a cactus, Echinomastus erectocentrus var. acunensis, is an endangered species with a restricted distribution in the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico. Population-level genetic analyses for this species are lacking, and taxonomic boundaries between E. erectocentrus var. acunensis and its close relatives E. erectocentrus var. erectocentrus and E. johnsonii are unclear. Detailed morphological data that have been collected for these three taxa indicate the existence of a geographical cline from the Mojave Desert to the Sonoran Desert. The goal of this project is to document genetic diversity within and among populations of E. erectocentrus var. acunensis, as well as between E. erectocentrus var. acunensis and its close relatives. The addition of genetic data to our current knowledge of morphology and distribution may enable us to form stronger species definitions, make more accurate field identifications, and begin to clarify taxonomic confusion in the group. To acquire genetic data, seven known populations of E. erectocentrus var. acunensis, three populations of E. erectocentrus var. erectocentrus and four populations of E. johnsonii were visited, and more than 230 spine or floral tissue samples were taken. DNA was extracted, and data were collected for 11 microsatellite regions specifically developed for these taxa, and two microsatellite regions previously developed for Sclerocactus. Standard population genetic measures were used to determine genetic variation and structure, and observed genetic differentiation was compared to the current morphological understanding of the group. These analyses help improve our knowledge of the genetic structure of E. erectocentrus var. acunensis populations and inform our understanding of species boundaries and evolutionary relationships within the group, thereby allowing us to refine conservation and management plans aimed at protecting and restoring populations of this endangered species.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Friday, May 3, 2019

Seana Walsh, Dustin Wolkis, and Ken Wood, National Tropical Botanical Garden

Phyllostegia electra (Lamiaceae) is endemic to the mesic and wet forests of Kaua'i. It is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and is a focal species for achieving conservation objectives outlined in the Hawai'i Strategy for Plant Conservation. With less than 50 known wild individuals among 15 subpopulations, P. electra is also a focal species of the University of Hawai'i's Plant Extinction Prevention Program. It is not, however, protected by the Endangered Species Act.

A grant from the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund is supporting NTBG staff to: 1) make conservation collections from wild populations, 2) conduct a genetic diversity study in collaboration with Chicago Botanic Garden (CBG), 3) outplant into protected and managed habitat, and 4) investigate optimal seed storage methods.

Eighteen remote field work trips have been undertaken since March 2017 to secure conservation collections and obtain leaf material for the genetic diversity study. Genetic marker (microsatellites) development was recently completed and silica-dried leaf material sent to CBG for DNA extraction. Since June 2017, 215 individuals have been outplanted into Kalalau Exclosure and NTBG Gardens and Preserves. Preliminary results of our investigation into optimal seed storage indicate that seeds do not tolerate exposure to liquid nitrogen without prior desiccation. We also found that germination was significantly higher in the 42% eRH frozen treatment compared to the 30% eRH frozen treatment. This work is directly contributing to the conservation of this rare taxon and we are using this multi-faceted project model in our approach to conserving other rare plant taxa as well.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Friday, May 3, 2019

Emily Beckman, Sean Hoban, Matt Lobdell, and Murphy Westwood, The Morton Arboretum

Oaks are keystone species across the majority of forest and shrubland habitats in the United States, but many are threatened with extinction in the wild. Ongoing conservation efforts exist for some native U.S. oak species, but growing threats and limited resources necessitate prioritization and coordination. To that end, The Morton Arboretum, BGCI-US, and the U.S. Forest Service conducted a conservation gap analysis of native U.S. oaks. As part of the analysis, we completed an extensive global ex situ survey, which enabled us to estimate the genetic and ecological coverage of ex situ collections for at-risk native oaks. These results facilitate the prioritization of species, populations, and regions for further representation in ex situ collections. Such analyses also pave the way for coordination among collections and provide a model approach for assessing other genera and regions.

Date Recorded: 
Friday, May 3, 2019