degraded habitat

Dennis David, National Wildlife Refuge Association; Chuck Hunter, US Fish & Wildlife Service; Duke Rankin, US 
Southeastern Partners in Plant Conservation 2020 Conference Abstracts - 38 -
Forest Service; Joanne Baggs, US FS; Carrie Sekerak, US FS; Jeff Hall, NC Wildlife Resources Div.; Pierson Hill,
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Com.; Greg Titus, FWS; Amy Jenkins, FL Natural Areas Inventory; Lesley
Starke, NC Plant Conservation Program; Jeff Beane, NC State Museum of Natural Sciences; Andy Walker, Croatan &
Uwharries National Forest; Megan Keserauskis, FW; John Dunlap, FS; Jorge Guevara, FS; Janna Mott, The Nature
Conservancy of FL; Jeff Marcus, TNC of NC; Thomas Crate, NC State Parks; Chris Jordan, NC Wildlife Resources
Commission; Jennifer Fawcett, Prescribed Fire Work Group at NCSU, Vernon Compton, Longleaf Alliance, John
Matthews, FS; Dan Frisk, FWS; Chris Petersen, DOD Navy; Jeff Talbert, Atlanta Botanical Garden at Deer Lake;
Jennifer Ceska, GA Plant Conservation Alliance; Jenny Cruse-Sanders, State Botanical Garden of GA; Carrie
Radcliffe, Atlanta Botanical Garden

During the At-Risk Workshop series 2015 to 2016, an interagency status review identified habitat degradation caused by
fire exclusion as the primary reason for decline of more than 114 Southeastern wetland species now trending towards
Federal listing; this critical disturbance regime has also been recognized as essential for the recovery of Federally
Threatened and Endangered wetland-dependent guilds of taxa. In 2019, two workshops funded jointly by the US Fish
and Wildlife Service and the US Forest Service and coordinated by the National Wildlife Refuge Association were held,
with the main objective of strategizing getting more fire into isolated ephemeral wetlands to help at-risk species. Over
130 conservation professionals from more than 40 agencies and organizations from the SE US contributed knowledge
of tools and restoration techniques used to manage ephemeral wetlands. Local subject matter experts, biologists, fire
practitioners, ecologists and land managers convened to discuss and share best restoration and management practices for
ephemeral wetlands to address at-risk species management (plant and animal) with a focus in the longleaf ecosystem in
the Coastal Plain. Carrie Sekerak, Deputy District Ranger, Ocala National Forest will present on the state of these
isolated wetlands, the current issues in isolated wetland management, and a snapshot of best practices being applied.

Date Recorded: 
Thursday, March 5, 2020

Stephanie Koontz, Archibold Biological Station, Cheryl L. Peterson, Bok Tower Gardens, Valerie C. Pence, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Eric S. Menges, Archbold Biological Station

Translocations are an increasingly utilized tool for rare plant conservation. Urbanization along the Lake Wales Ridge, in southcentral Florida, has led to 85% loss of native Florida scrub and sandhill. The few remaining intact patches hold a plethora of endemics. Our program has translocated several species from unprotected to protected parcels. All translocations are monitored post-outplanting and demographic data used to evaluate success. Here we present case studies for three federally listed species and discuss the challenges in restoring rare plants. Ziziphus celata has few remnant, mostly unprotected populations. Further contributing to its rarity is slow growth and limited sexual reproduction. We implemented 10 translocations between 1998 and 2012. Analyses of vital rates through 2016 determined annual survival of both wild and translocated plants is high (>90%), but growth of transplants is 1/10th the rate of wild plants. Many wild plants flower annually, yet <3% of transplants have reached reproductive maturity. Setting benchmarks for translocation success is challenging when dealing with a slow-growing, reproductively challenged species. Crotalaria avonensis has two protected and one unprotected site. Fruit set is low, requires insect pollination, and seedlings are rare. In 2012, we introduced genetic material from the unprotected site to a protected parcel. Transplants have thrived and expanded through clonal and seedling recruitment, from 84 original transplants to 208 plants in 2019. Germination of sown seeds was also a success (47%) with many surviving, flowering and fruiting. The first decade of this translocation may qualify as a success, but the ultimate test comes in long-term population responses to land management activities and climate change. Dicerandra christmanii has <10 sites, only one is protected. It relies on periodic fire to maintain open sandy gaps within the scrub matrix and persists from post-fire seedling recruitment. We have augmentated (2010) and introduction (2012) populations. Both translocations grew exponentially, but the question remained, were populations demographically viable. Using long-term demographic data from wild plants and integral projection models, we determined vital rates and predicted population trajectories were similar between wild and translocated populations. Wild populations provide a priori knowledge of a species’ basic biology and ecological requirements to inform more successful translocations.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Wednesday, March 4, 2020