plant conservation

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.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Wednesday, October 14, 2020

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

Wesley M. Knapp, North Carolina Natural Heritage Program

Preventing extinction is the lowest bar for conservation success we can set and the roll of ex situ conservation efforts in preventing extinction is becoming more significant. Continued work to document the extinct plants of North America north of Mexico has resulted in the discovery that up to 7 plants are extinct in the wild (EW). While these extinct plant taxa have no naturally occurring populations, they are still found in ex situ collections at botanical gardens. These collections may have issues in having full conservation value. Many collections were taken from few or single individuals and not necessarily intended to prevent the extinction of a species, but now represent the last known individuals. Some species reported as present in seed banks or botanical gardens are incorrectly identified. Additionally, botanical gardens having the last known individuals of a species are not necessarily aware of the significance of these collections. Evidence suggests a species has gone extinct while at a botanical garden because the specimen was destroyed before the significance of the collection was recognized. A prioritization of ex situ conservation efforts, using the best data is critical to prevent future extinction events. Single site global endemics or species of extremely narrow geographic distributions are the most susceptible to extinction. I will discuss a collaboration with NatureServe to identify global single site endemics that we hope will help prioritize seed banking and ex situ collections for these species following best practices to ensure quality/genetic diversity of collections. Additionally, an ongoing collaboration with the North Carolina Botanical Garden to prioritize the rarest plants in North Carolina for ex situ conservation efforts has already seen significant results.

Date Recorded: 
Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Jim Ozier, Environmental Specialist, Environmental and Natural Resources, Georgia Power Company

The Georgia Power Company is an investor-owned utility that generates, delivers, and markets electricity throughout most of the state. The company is one of the state's largest private landowners; conservation attributes of these lands include a refuge for the world's only population of Georgia alder (Alnus maritima georgiensis) and federally designated Critical Habitat for Georgia rockcress (Arabis georgiana). Georgia Power also manages the vegetation on thousands of miles of powerline corridors to ensure safe and reliable power delivery. This is generally accomplished through an integrated approach of mowing every 6 years and targeted backpack spraying of woody encroachment every 2 years inbetween. Incidentally this maintains valuable open habitat needed by many grasses and forbs. Sites known to harbor rare species are designated for management using only hand tools as needed. Examples include several pitcherplant (Sarracenia spp.) bogs and habitat for the federally endangered hairy rattleweed (Baptisia arachnifera). Additionally, Georgia Power is a partner in a Candidate Conservation Agreement for the Georgia aster (Symphyotrichum georgianum) and conducts surveys, monitoring, and special management for this species, which appears to be doing well on company lands and rights-of-way.

Date Recorded: 
Thursday, March 5, 2020

Abby Meyer, Botanic Gardens Conservation International, U.S.

Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) mobilizes the global botanic garden community to conserve plant species. BGCI reports to the United Nations on progress made toward the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC). The GSPC, as well as the North American Botanic Garden Strategy for Plant Conservation, serve as road maps to guide effective plant conservation across countries, and are composed of a series of outcome-oriented targets aimed at documenting, conserving, sustainably using, educating and building capacity for plant diversity. Both strategies will need to be renewed at the end of 2020, and BGCI and partners have been assessing global progress and potential new GSPC targets. In North America, BGCI-US and the American Public Gardens Association have developed a Plant Conservation & Biodiversity Benchmark tool that connects conservation actions to strategy targets. We are working in 2020 to represent every garden in our dataset, in order to guide the next targets of the North American strategy.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Thursday, March 5, 2020