rare plant

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

Sujai Veeramachaneni (GDOT), Felicity Davis (GDOT), Chris Goodson (GDOT), Anna Yellin (WRD), Meg Hedeen (GDOT), Carrie Keogh (Emory University)

Protected plant species that prefer open and forest edge habitats can find unexpected homes in regularly maintained transportation rights-of-way. Avoidance and minimization of these resources is a critical goal for the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) during design and construction of proposed transportation projects. When protected plant surveys identify protected plant populations in rights-of-way which can be avoided by proposed projects, GDOT designates an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) to be signed and maintained in perpetuity. While designating ESAs is not a new practice, GDOT desired a consistent tracking system for, sometimes historic, ESA records. Only a couple known ESA sites had dedicated management plans, another challenge for conservation of these important plant populations. Starting in 2018, GDOT partnered with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources – Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) and Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), as well as Emory University, to assess current practices and develop a plan for tracking and managing ESA sites across Georgia. Tracking, management and recovery development efforts involved contributions from and coordination between many parties both external and internal to GDOT. Existing practices and proposals for improvement were developed by Emory University students participating in a service learning course. WRD provided element occurrence data that intersect existing rights-of-way, while existing ESA locations continue to be identified by GDOT District personnel and consultants surveying for proposed transportation projects. A template ESA management plan was developed to help record site information for tracking and recovery efforts, including site-specific management actions that will be easily accessible for GDOT District Maintenance personnel. Development of this tracking and maintenance system is on-going, but the future of rare plant recovery in roadway rights-of-way seems bright.

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

Katherine D. Heineman, Christa Horn, Naomi Fraga, Cheryl Sevilla, Heather Schneider, Vanessa Handley, Holly Forbes, Brett Hall, Evan Meyer, Tony Gunroe, Shannon Still, David Magney, Stacy Anderson, Bart O’Brien, Joyce Maschinski

Center for Plant Conservation, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, University of California Botanic Garden, University of California-Santa Cruz Botanic Garden & Arboretum, University of California-Los Angeles, Mildred E. Mathias Botanic Garden, San Diego Botanic Garden, University of California-Davis, Botanic Garden & Arboretum, California Native Plant Society, Regional Parks Botanic Garden

California is home to one third of the globally rare plant species in the United States. To secure this incredible flora, ten botanical institutions in California have joined together to form the seed banking collaborative, California Plant Rescue. By sharing our accession data and integration of combined dataset with our natural heritage database, we created a suite of tools in support of seed collections. These tools include a web-based accessions database, a mapping application for collections targeting, and a web-app that prioritizes species for collection based on location, conservation status, and phylogenetic diversity. From our dataset, we also conducted a gap analysis of current collections in order to direct our seed strategy moving forward. Our analysis evaluated the spatial, phylogenetic, landownership, and ecological patterns of seed collections in California. Some patterns were intuitive: Our seed collections were heavily biased toward Southern California where the majority of our permanent seed banks, including our most prolific collector, is located. Ecological patterns were somewhat less intuitive: despite high interannual variation in population size, annuals are more likely to be represented in seed collection than perennials perhaps owing toward larger seed set and lower incidence of recalcitrance. Finally, our landownership analysis demonstrated that the greatest potential for seed collection in California is on US Forest Service land, which has the highest density of extant rare plant occurrences. We identified five specific National Forests which are home to 20 or more uncollected rare species, an insight that will be crucial for prioritizing permitting and relationship building with agency collaborators. In 2019, California Plant Rescue was awarded $3.6 million by the State of California to seed bank the remaining 650 rarest plant species in California. We will leverage these tools and insights to take full advantage of this exciting opportunity.

Date Recorded: 
Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Anna Lucio, Kentucky Department of Agriculture

The annual American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) (ginseng) harvest is rooted with deep cultural and economic value in communities not often touched with conventional agriculture programs. Authorized under Kentucky statute and regulation, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture administrates the ginseng program for Kentucky. The requirements for this program come from necessity in order to have legal trade access on the international market as a species listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which the United States has ratified as part of 50 CFR Part 23. The general assembly established Kentucky’s program in 1982 with the latest updates in 2010. This presentation will outline the management of the current Kentucky program in terms of the processes in place to ensure a future ginseng harvest.

Date Recorded: 
Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Kendall McDonald, Tara Littlefield, Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves

The Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves (OKNP) is the natural heritage and natural areas program for Kentucky. OKNP maintains the Kentucky rare species database, and acquires and manages natural areas and nature preserves that host high quality communities and rare species. In 2019, OKNP created the Kentucky Forest Biodiversity Program (KFBP) in order to more efficiently address conservation concerns of Kentucky’s forests such as a conservation status of forest medicinal plants and other species of conservation concern, forest health, floristic quality, and increases in invasive species. OKNP conducted forest assessments at long term monitoring sites in approximately 20% of Kentucky’s counties. 20% of counties will be surveyed each year, completing the state wide inventory after 5 years (2019-2023). The KFBP focuses on surveys of rare and conservative forested plant species, forest community diversity and structure, herbaceous diversity, forest medicinal plants/species of commercial concern, invasive species and other threats. With creation of new partnerships, OKNP was able to increase staff and resources to make the KFBP possible. By leveraging existing resources of several statewide projects, creating an efficient data collection standard and building a larger database for all species and communities (biodiversity database), OKNP was able to create a more comprehensive program that addresses core biodiversity questions of Kentucky’s forests and meets the data needs for various partners throughout the state.

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

Kristen Hasenstab-Lehman, C. Matt Guilliams, Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens

Dithyrea maritima (Davidson), or beach spectaclepod, is a dune specialist endemic to coastal dunes from central California, United States, to northwestern Baja California, Mexico. Individuals of this perennial herb spread by rhizomes, forming a diffuse colony of ramets, each terminating in rosette of 1 to several fleshy leaves, and a two-chambered fruit (silicle). It is listed on the California Native Plant Society Rare and Endangered Plant Inventory on list 1B.1 and was listed as Threatened under the California Endangered Species Act. Studied occurrences of the self-incompatible D. maritima have low seed set, though manual outcrosses boost seed production. Knowledge of the distribution of genotypes on the landscape is be a critical first step toward any number of recovery actions. In this study, we sample from approximately 30 individuals from each of eleven samplinglocations spanning the range of the taxon from Morro Bay, CA, USA to San Quintín, Baja CA, MX. We used double digestion RADseq to prepare libraries for high-throughput sequencing, assemble the dataset in ipyrad producing 5092 SNPs, and analyze population genomics of the species. We place the observed population genomic patterns into the context of regional biogeography, and conclude with recommendations for managing the species.

Date Recorded: 
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Daniella DeRose, Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic Garden’s Plants of Concern (POC) program is a collaboration between citizen scientists, natural resource managers, and researchers to collect data on rare plant populations in northeastern Illinois. The primary goal is to identify best conservation practices, while creating awareness and providing education on why conservation matters. POC engages citizen scientists, collects census data on rare plant populations—including identifying invasive species, threats, and evidence of management—and provides data to land managers. Data generated by POC inform the Illinois rare species listing process and are used by land managers to understand population trends and prioritize activities. Program monitors also serve as ecological site stewards. POC has monitored 292 species and 2453 populations, trained 953 volunteers, and worked with 135 landowners as of December 2018. POC trains its citizen scientists to collect standardized data. Partners include volunteer groups, government agencies, private landowners, and researchers.

POC is learning how management impacts rare species. Hill’s thistle, Cirsium hillii, is a habitat specialist threatened by habitat loss and lack of management. Although monitoring and management data suggested that burning and brush removal increase population size, in-depth study revealed a discrepancy between census size and effective population size. POC founder Susanne Masi led level 2 monitoring efforts looking at demography of C. hillii. CBG scientist Jeremie Fant & MS students Abigail White and Nora Gavin-Smyth found that most populations are highly clonal. Self-incompatibility, low flowering rates, and lack of compatible mates lead to low/no seed set, but genetic augmentation (introduced pollen) is able to reduce mate limitation. Based on these results, POC modified its monitoring protocol for C. hillii, introducing a minimum size for identifying individuals. CBG scientist Jacob Zeldin developed new micropropagation techniques that allow for the rapid and controlled cloning of individual C. hillii genotypes year-round with minimal space and materials. Land managers are now interested in using genetic augmentation for this species, sharing genetic material between sites.

Date Recorded: 
Thursday, May 2, 2019