conservation action

Heather Schneider, Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens

There are times when drying and storing seeds is not an option for the conservation of a plant species. This might be because the seeds cannot survive the freezing process, or maybe because the species no longer produces seeds in the wild. Researchers at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden have been working with one such species, the Federally endangered Island Barberry, which no longer reproduces well naturally. While once found on several different channel islands, this species now occurs in a single location. 

Santa Barbara BG has established an ex-situ population of this rare species, allowing them to both conserve the genetic diveristy in a controlled environment, and use these plants to perform experiments without adversely effecting the small wild population. In 2019 these researchers began a propagation study using this ex-situ collection of island barberry to determine the best propagation methods for the species. Their experimental design had 4 variables. They planted cuttings in both the winter and the spring, they took cuttings from source material of different ages, they tested the use of a heating pad in propagation, and they tested different rooting hormone concentrations. Their results clearly defined the best practices for propagating the species. Cuttings should be made from old growth source material, and should be planted in the winter rather than the spring without the use of a heating pad. Rooting hormone is effective at both a 1:10 and 1:15 dilution. With this information, researchers have been very successful in propagating cuttings from the wild population for reintroductions.

This project is a great example of the value of living collections and horticultural expertise in rare plant conservation. An ex situ population was used to curate best practice recommendations for use by everyone involved in saving this species. From the boots on the ground on Santa Cruz Island to the dedicated staff and volunteers at SBBG, these efforts have ensured the Island Barberry a fighting chance at survival.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Mincy Moffett, Jr., Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Conservation Section

State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs) are multi-year strategies in which every U.S. state and territory assesses the health
of its wildlife and lays out steps for conserving it over the long term. These plans establish a framework for conservation
efforts that aim to protect species before they are endangered, with each plan custom-fitted to its jurisdiction’s unique
needs and priorities. One of the eight (8) required elements for a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service approved plan is the
identification of Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) within each jurisdiction.
Unfortunately, most states have not included plants among their SGCN, with only 18% (8 of 56) of states/territories
doing so in the 2005 plan, and 34% (19 of 56) in the 2015 revision. Among the states/territories within the SePPCon
footprint, 17% (3 of 17) included plants in 2005, and 53% (9 of 17) in 2015. Reasons given for this include: 1) state
wildlife agencies charged with the development of SWAPs not having regulatory authority for plant conservation; 2)
agencies not having botanical technical expertise on staff; and 3) plants being excluded from the federal definition of
‘wildlife’ under the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program and, therefore, ineligible for direct funding. One goal of
SePPCon (and a future Southeastern Plant Conservation Alliance [SEPCA]), will be to encourage and support the
inclusion of plants as SGCN in SWAPs by all regional members. The next SWAP revision for most states is due in 2025,
with preparations beginning in the next few years.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Tuesday, March 3, 2020