reintroduction

Melissa K. McCormick, Dennis F. Whigham, Rachel Rock-Blake, Hope E.A. Brooks

North American Orchid Conservation Center (NAOCC) and Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC)

Orchids are widely threatened and endangered worldwide, but efforts to conserve and restore them has been limited by not knowing about the pollinators and fungi they need to grow and reproduce. The absence of appropriate mycorrhizal fungi can limit where orchids grow, but little is known about how the abundance and diversity of appropriate mycorrhizal fungi can affect orchid growth and population dynamics. Light availability is also expected to affect population dynamics, but with orchid life stages occurring predominantly above- or below-ground it seems reasonable to hypothesize that different life stages would be driven by above- or below-ground factors. In particular, emergent, green, above-ground stages would be most impacted by light, while seed, protocorm, and dormant stages would be most affected by mycorrhizal fungi. We hypothesized that the distribution, abundance, and emergence of the globally rare temperate, terrestrial orchid, Isotria medeoloides, would be driven at least partly by their mycorrhizal fungi. We combined the use of specific PCR primers, quantitative real-time PCR, and spatially nested soil samples to measure the distribution and abundance of mycorrhizal fungi that associate with I. medeoloides and measurement of light availability and orchid growth in three distinct studies. We found that I. medeoloides distribution and emergence were affected by the distribution and abundance of their mycorrhizal fungi in the soil. In contrast, plant growth during the growing season and the likelihood of flowering the subsequent year were more affected by light availability. We conclude that orchid conservation and studies of the drivers of orchid population dynamics need to consider both the mycorrhizal fungi and light resources they require.

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

Kim McCue, Shannon Felberg and Steve Blackwell
Desert Botanic Garden

Date Recorded: 
Friday, May 4, 2018

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. 

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Friday, October 9, 2020

Tony Gurnoe, San Diego Botanic Garden

Baccharis vanessae, Encinitas baccharis, was originally described from a small population in Encinitas, California, just a couple of miles from the San Diego Botanic Garden (SDBG). The last individual to live within the garden was documented in 1997 and has not been observed since. The nearby type locality has also dwindled to just over two dozen individuals. Last year the team from the SDBG joined the efforts to conserve Encinitas baccharis by monitoring this population and collecting seeds from the few maternal lines available. Most of these seeds went into seed banks as part of the California Biodiversity Initiative and California Plant Rescue programs, but a cohort were also grown in SDBG’s nursery. This fall Baccharis vanessae will be reintroduced to the botanical garden with the goal of gaining a better understanding of how the species behaves in varying soil types and exposure scenarios. Meanwhile, SDBG staff continue to work with other populations, other institutions, and various other agencies toward the culmination of major in situ reinforcement and establishment of long-term management plans for Baccharis vanessae.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Friday, October 9, 2020

Alexandra Seglias (Denver Botanic Gardens)

Nicola Ripley (Betty Ford Alpine Gardens)

Brittany Roberts Marshall (Betty Ford Alpine Gardens)

 

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Alpine ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to climate change. The Denver Botanic Gardens are seeking to protect rare species from these regions, banking seeds from multiple Alpine populations by maternal line. However, collecting seed from these remote areas comes with multiple challenges. Seed production is dependent on the previous year's winter weather, there is a short window for flowering and seed setting, the phenology changes rapidly, and many sites are difficult to reach.
After gathering seed, researchers at Denver Botanic Gardens perform germination trials and grow seedlings to be reintroduced. Plants are also added to the living collections at Denver Botanic Garden and the Betty Ford Alpine Botanic Gardens to further preserve these rare species.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Thursday, May 21, 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

Seeding annual plants for rare plant restoration and reintroduction

My colleagues and I are working on a large rare plant project on the Channel Islands in California. One of our objectives is to increase population size of small occurrences and also establishing new populations in suitable habitat to provide redundancy. For the annual plants in our project (e.g., MalacothrixPentachaetaThysanocarpus) and possibly one Dudleya species, we plan to use locally collected seed, bulk that seed in our greenhouse, and then return it to the islands. I know that seeding often has low success rates.

Question Category: 

Seana Walsh, National Tropical Botanical Garden

When conducting plant reintroductions with the help of volunteers it is useful to do a measure of advance planning. Considerations might include such items as taking into account how many volunteers are attending and making sure that there are enough tools and gloves available. It is important to be certain that each plant is labeled with a unique id that corresponds to a field tag. It is good practice to survey the reintroduction site in advance and place the field tags where the plants will go. On the day of planting, explain the full protocol, from how to clean boots going into (and leaving) the site, to how to best remove the plant from its pot and orient it in the new setting. On site, consider providing snacks and taking group photos. After the planting show appreciation for the received assistance by sending a thank you note or following up after six months with a picture of how well the plants are doing. Showing appreciation for the volunteers will likely encourage them to return and volunteer again.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Monday, December 2, 2019
Joyce Maschinski poses with a sentry milkvetch (Astragalus cremnophylax var. cremnophylax), a species she helped direct toward recovery with reintroductions and management.
Photo Categories: 
Photo Credit: 
Joyce Maschinski