CPCPlants2020

Steven Blackwell, Desert Botanic Garden

Seeds are as diverse and beautiful as the plants from which they derive. However, due to their size and scale their details are often overlooked. Using macrophotography techniques the Seed Photography Lab (SPL) at the Desert Botanical Garden creates magnified, high-resolution digital images of seeds that can yield valuable information for researchers. These images can provide visual evidence to support taxonomic studies or to broaden the understanding of the seed biology and ecology of a species. Current projects include imaging seeds of Arizona cactus taxa and documenting seed and embryo morphology to create a better understanding of the dormancy mechanisms of rare species. Just as importantly, these images also have the ability to engage the public by capturing the innate beauty and diversity of seeds. The macrophotography system consists of professional-grade digital photography equipment, advanced imaging software, and precision hardware. Together these components allow for the capture of highly detailed images throughout the depth of the seed resulting in images that are both scientifically valuable and aesthetically compelling. These images are stored in the Desert Botanical Garden’s web-based living collections management system at livingcollections.org/dbg and are available for use by researchers and the public anywhere in the world. Using high-resolution imaging technology can enhance the value of seed collections and provide a valuable resource to both plant researchers and the public.

Date Recorded: 
Thursday, October 8, 2020

Joe Davitt, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research

In this video, Joe outlines the process for making short informative videos using commonly available technological resources such as your smart phone. He describes the tools available to CPC Network members seeking to create content for CPC Rare Plant Academy or our upcoming online course series, including: assistance storyboarding, video editing, animation, and voice over. Most of all, this video is very fun and full of orchids.

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Date Recorded: 
Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Michael Kunz, North Carolina Botanical Garden

Populations of rare plants can fail to produce enough, or any, seed to support reintroduction efforts. This is particularly true for rapidly declining or recently extirpated species or populations. One solution to this problem is to increase the number of seeds through ex situ propagation and seed collection. Amaranthus pumilus is a federally endangered annual plant that has experienced a 98.5% decline in the number of individuals over the last decade, and many known locations no longer support this species. Another federally endangered annual plant, Aeschynomene virginica, is also declining and was recently extirpated from the southern extent of its range. Following the Center for Plant Conservation Best Practices, I describe how we maintain genetic integrity and maximize seed numbers in increasing seed for reintroduction efforts for these two annual species. 

Date Recorded: 
Thursday, October 8, 2020

Sula Vanderplank, San Diego Zoo Global

The cross-border seedbanking initiative affectionately known as ‘Baja Rare’ targets around 65 taxa that are documented to be rare, threatened or endangered both sides of the MX/US border.  Many of these plants are far better-known in the US than in Mexico and as a result, our program has had to start with significant reconnaissance and surveys to find the populations historically documented.  In four cases (Streptanthus campestris, Navarrettia peinsularis, Erythranthe purpurea and Acmispon haydonii), expert botanical participation has revealed mis-identifications which make each of these three plants significantly rarer than previously assumed.  This project has also revealed at least one new highly restricted endemic taxon and multiple taxa worth of further study.  The role of the expert botanist is essential.

Date Recorded: 
Friday, October 9, 2020

Lauren Eserman, Atlanta Botanical Garden

Conradina glabra, or Apalachicola rosemary, is a federally listed endangered species that exists only on a small area of sandhill in Liberty County, Florida. Forestry practices in the last 100 years have resulted in declining populations of C. glabra. In the wild, plants produce very few seeds, but small plants that resemble seedlings are commonly found. Through a grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, we are using molecular genetic techniques to understand whether C. glabra is reproducing clonally or via sexual reproduction as well as what factors encourage seed germination. To address this question, we sampled plants from forty locations across Torreya State Park in a spatially explicit experimental design. A plant in the center of a large cluster of individuals was marked and samples were taken from plants in all four cardinal directions from the central plant at designated distances. From these samples, we generated RADseq data resulting in >10,000 SNPs from 564 individual plants. Analyses are still ongoing, but early results point to spatially structured genetic variation. Individuals share highly similar genotypes at distances < 1 meter; however, are genetically distinct at distances greater than 1 meter. These results suggest that Conradina glabra is perhaps clonal at very small geographic scales but is generally reproducing sexually across its range. Furthermore, we identify areas with unique genetic variation that is important for conservation. The results of this study are being communicated to land managers who are tasked with preserving this species on the ground.

Date Recorded: 
Friday, October 9, 2020

Heather E. Schneider, Sean A. Carson, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Documenting the abundance and distribution of rare plants is a critical first step in the the conservation of wild populations. The methods used to map plants on the landscape have changed dramatically over time. Biologists have progressed from providing locality descriptions and marking plant locations on maps by hand, to using handheld GPS units, to the modern-day use of tablets and smart phones. Depending on the goals of a project, plants may be mapped using points, polygons and lines, or sometimes a combination of features, with varying degrees of accuracy. All of these variables can make it difficult to compare population dynamics over time. How can we determine wither a population really expanded or contracted, versus when it appears that way based on discrepancies in mapping technique or GPS accuracy? In an attempt to standardize rare plant mapping efforts on the Channel Islands, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden worked with a group of collaborators to adapt and implement mapping protocols developed by Wildlands Conservation Science using ESRI’s Collector Application and a static spatial grid system. In 2019, we mapped the endangered Santa Cruz Island Dudleya (Dudleya nesiotica) using the protocols that we developed. Our results suggest that the abundance and extent of Santa Cruz Island Dudleya has increased since the last mapping effort in 2006, but we also laid the groundwork for more accurate comparisons in the future. The data generated using this method allow surveyors to map rare plants using consistent protocols that will improve the accuracy of comparisons of spatial distribution and abundance over time. While we are still fine-tuning our protocols and perfecting our methodology, this represents a significant step in improving data collection and analysis for rare plant surveys and monitoring.

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Date Recorded: 
Thursday, October 8, 2020

Billy Sale, Califonia Botanic Garden

California Botanic Garden (CalBG) is in the process of seed bulking three rare species of Atriplex from populations originating in southern California. Atriplex coronata var. notatior (G4T1), Atriplex parishii (G2G3) and Atriplex serenana var. davidsonii (G5T1). To better inform the project, propagation trials were performed prior to seed bulking in order to examine germination pretreatments. Gibberellic acid was identified as the most effective pretreatment for all three species and used to initiate seed bulking efforts. This project additionally sought to examine growth in four container sizes and three different soil types for seed production. Each species was planted in four container sizes (6 inch treepots, 6 inch squares, 3 gallons, and 4 inch trays) and three different soil types (restoration potting mix, restoration with lime, and restoration with additional peat moss), which were replicated in all pot sizes in order to see how seed production was impacted. Seed produced from each container was collected separately. Preliminary results and methods will be shared.

Date Recorded: 
Thursday, October 8, 2020

Cheryl Peterson, Bok Tower Gardens

Dicerandra immaculata var. immaculata (Lakela’s Mint) (Lamiaceae) is a short-lived perennial endemic to the Atlantic Coastal Ridge. It has only a three-mile historical range and few remaining populations. Population modeling predicts near complete loss of plants within eight years unless habitat is improved enough to support large enough populations to withstand stressful events such as drought. Prescribed fire has not been implemented as a habitat-maintenance tool because of the dense urban interface. Regular volunteer workdays have instead been used to eliminate the biggest threats to the persistence of Lakela’s Mint by hand-pulling love vine, thinning the dense overgrowth, and herbicide-treating invasive grasses. A positive response of the mint population, tracked through bi-annual monitoring, is evident. Within one year, plants in an improved area increase in size and reproductive output by ~30%, and seedling recruitment has been observed in long-unoccupied plots. This project shows that regular workdays can be an effective strategy to rebuild Lakela’s Mint populations that are rapidly declining due to loss of quality habitat where implementing fire is not possible.

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Friday, October 9, 2020

Sheila Murray, The Arboretum At Flagstaff

Despite our best laid plans, conserving rare plants in their natural context produces many unforeseen challenges. This session shares the challenges associated with three rare plant reintroduction efforts in drastically different ecosystems: Florida, Arizona, and coastal California. 

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Friday, October 9, 2020

James Locklear, Lauritzen Gardens

While our plant conservation work is primarily focused on individual at-risk species, Lauritzen Gardens has taken on an unanticipated role as authority and advocate for one of our region’s most biodiverse but underappreciated ecological systems. Sandsage prairie is a shrub-steppe community dominated by sand sagebrush (Artemisia filifolia). Sandsage prairie occupies an estimated 5 million hectares (12 million acres) of dune habitat in the Great Plains, but discontinuous distribution across the more remote and thinly-populated regions of eight different states masks its significance. Our relationship with this ecological system began a decade ago by conducting rare plant surveys in the sandsage region of Nebraska. Determining conservation strategies for these species required insight into the ecology of sandsage prairie that was lacking in the scientific literature. Subsequent range-wide research by Lauritzen Gardens led to the first comprehensive publication on the structure and dynamics of sandsage prairie vegetation. Expanding on this work, in a soon-to-be-published paper we enumerate for the first time the significant plant and animal diversity supported by sandsage prairie and argue that this neglected ecosystem is a biodiversity hotspot for the Great Plains worthy of landscape-scale conservation efforts.

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Date Recorded: 
Thursday, October 8, 2020