habitat restoration

Juliet Rynear, Florida Native Plant Society Executive Director

The Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) is working with private landowners to help conserve critically endangered plant species. Two of our projects represent the importance and value of this work: the Warea Partnership Project and the TorreyaKeepers Project. Warea amplexifolia (clasping warea) is a federally-listed endangered plant species endemic to central Florida and only 2 large populations remain (greater than 500 plants). The largest population resides entirely on private lands and many of those are small parcels that resulted from a failed subdivision in the 1960’s. By partnering with private landowners, FNPS has been able to assist in land management (population and habitat monitoring, fuel reduction and prescribed fire). FNPS has also acquired and assisted in the acquisition of parcels for conservation by working with local land trusts, private foundations, and nonprofit organizations. The Florida Panhandle is home to the most endangered conifer in North America: Torreya taxifolia (Florida torreya). Torreya taxifolia is a Federally Endangered tree that only occurs in the ravines east of the Apalachicola River in Liberty and Gadsden counties. Since the 1950’s, Torreya taxifolia populations have declined to fewer than 1,000 mature trees, as the species is infected with a deadly fungal pathogen. Most known trees are on State lands, including Torreya State Park which is named after this iconic species. FNPS is working to: 1) reach out to property owners in the known range of Torreya taxifolia, 2) document and monitor confirmed trees, 3) collect genetic material, and 4) advise on best management practices.

Date Recorded: 
Thursday, March 5, 2020

Amy Jenkins, Florida Natural Areas Inventory

Chad Anderson, Florida Natural Areas Inventory

Jason Drake, United States Forest Service

Understanding the historic conditions and habitats in a region is a vital first step to planning restoration and management activities. With our partners, US Forest Service, Florida Forest Service, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) used aerial photography from as far back as the 1930’s, coupled with current photography, soils data, LiDAR elevation data, rare plant occurrences, and GPS’d groundtruthing points, to develop an historic vegetation map of several large contiguous conservation lands in the Apalachicola region. These maps cover a large portion of the region and are an important baseline for ecological and hydrological restoration efforts by managers across property boundaries. Additionally, historic vegetation maps can be used on a smaller scale when planning silvicultural projects, targeting specific habitats for rare plant surveys, or to identify areas where fire has long been absent. This map has been a vital tool when studying rare plant species such as Harper’s beauty (Harperocallis flava). Harper’s Beauty is a critically imperiled, federally endangered plant that is endemic to the Florida panhandle and grows in the species rich pitcherplant prairies of the Apalachicola River lowlands. FNAI has been documenting its populations for more than a decade. Harper’s beauty thrives in a fire dependent habitat that in recent decades has seen a reduction in the fire application and hence an increase of woody vegetation cover and some populations have been reduced or lost. Most recently we established monitoring plots to attempt to quantify its habitat conditions, especially in relation to fire. Preliminary data analysis has provided valuable insight to help guide management.

Date Recorded: 
Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Brian Pelc, Restoration Project Manager, The Nature Conservancy-Florida. Coordinator of the Apalachicola Regional Stewardship Alliance. Chad Anderson, Ecologist,

Florida Natural Areas Inventory Wet and Mesic Longleaf Pine Flatwoods (and structurally comparable longleaf ecosystems) play a critical role in maintaining the high biodiversity of southeastern forests. Previous flatwoods work has identified as many as 191 vascular plant taxa as well as >1500 plant species endemic to the North American Coastal Plain. This broad region of the southeastern continental United States is home to a gradient of native flatwoods habitats that once covered upwards of 90 million acres from Virginia to Texas. However, the vast majority of these native pine ecosystems were converted to off-site pine plantations and fire excluded in the last century, greatly reducing plant diversity and leaving land managers and biologists uncertain how best to implement and measure restoration efforts within a legacy of ecological mismanagement. Flatwoods restoration approaches in the last decade have resulted in very few successes, largely due to low survival of pine seedlings grown under an uncharacteristically dense and resilient shrub layer. To address this uncertainty and reverse the pattern of failed efforts, a partnership in the eastern portion of the Florida Panhandle is coordinating an effort to test various canopy conversion and fire re-introduction efforts on a meaningful scale and using a common monitoring protocol. The end goal will be a suite of clearing, site preparation, planting, maintenance and monitoring regimes that efficiently restore forest function and facilitate increased biodiversity over time. After identifying knowledge gaps for flatwoods longleaf pine establishment as a significant and high priority obstacle to large scale flatwoods restoration, the steering committee of the Apalachicola Regional Stewardship Alliance (ARSA)identified funds to 1) develop a monitoring protocol useful and comparable across the region and a variety of canopy thinning strategies and 2) install permanent plots in (at least) three partnership properties that span the east-west breadth of the partnership region (~ 100 miles.) Speakers will describe the baseline monitoring effort as well as plot level comparison between traditional vegetation monitoring data and data collected by terrestrial lidar scans. This project will require as much as decade to realize the full suite of tools for reconversion and associated impacts on flatwoods function and biodiversity. However, early successes can inform other projects and refine the suite of available tools.

Date Recorded: 
Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Tara Littlefield, Senior Botanist/Plant Conservation Section Manager, Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves

It all started with a monitoring study of a declining White fringeless orchid (Platanthera integrilabia) population in 2007 at a State Nature Preserve in the Cumberland Plateau of Kentucky. This talk will outline this long term monitoring study of the white fringeless orchids and the associated seep communities and how they responded to management of the associated habitat. In addition, status survey trends of all WFO populations in Kentucky, partnerships with the forest service on recovery of populations on forest service lands, in situ and ex situ conservation strategies, as well as the importance of restoration and connection of the adjacent upland pine oak barrens will be discussed. Topics of partnerships, life history studies, seep and habitat management, seed and mycorrhizal banking, propagation, surveys and trends will be highlighted in this white fringeless orchid recovery and seep restoration talk.

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

Margi Hunter, Tennessee Naturalist Program, Cooper Breeden, Southeastern Grasslands Initiative, Austin Peay State University, Tennessee Plant Conservation Alliance

The lack of funding and resources necessary to conserve many of our most imperiled species and communities is a ubiquitous problem. In the absence of traditional support, more grassroots and citizen-led efforts are essential to ensure the survival of rare populations and habitats. In Tennessee, one citizen science-initiated and -led project has demonstrated the impact these grassroots efforts can have on our rare flora. We will present on the safeguarding efforts surrounding the running glade clover, Trifolium calcaricum. It is only known from 6 populations, only 1 of which in Tennessee is protected. With encouragement from the Tennessee Division of Natural Areas, a citizen volunteer initiated contact with a private landowner, secured permission to propagate plants from the site, and established 18 different reintroduction sites in nearby parks and state natural areas. In addition, a subset of plants were given to a local botanic garden to create an interpretive rare plant display. Future plans for this project include a suite of ecological and experimental studies to examine the effect of multiple factors on Trifolium calcaricum demographics on both introduced and natural populations.

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

Postdoctoral Fellowships in Restoration Ecology at the Missouri Botanical Garden

The Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development (CCSD) at the Missouri Botanical Garden seeks to hire two full-time postdoctoral scholars in Restoration Ecology. We anticipate hiring one postdoctoral fellow whose research focuses on the population genetics of restored populations and another whose research focuses on any of the following: plant community ecology, seed-based restoration, plant-soil interactions, and/or biological invasions.

Question Category: 
The extremely rare pine snake’s return to the region has been credited to the habitat restoration efforts implemented to support smooth coneflower. Here Clemson University graduate student Brian Hudson holds a male pine snake.
Photo Categories: 
Photo Credit: 
Patrick Ceska