SePPCon 2020

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

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

Dr. Emily B. Roberson, National Plant Conservation Campaign

Plants are second-class conservation citizens. People often overlook or ignore plants in their environment, even in natural areas where animals tend to receive the "lion’s share" of attention. Sadly this problem is widespread among policymakers. Even many environmental groups often overlook native plants in their work. As a result, plants are discriminated against in every aspect of law, policies, staffing and budgets for science and conservation. The Native Plant Conservation Campaign (NPCC) was created to combat these problems. The NPCC is a national network of Affiliate plant conservation groups including native plant societies, botanic gardens and others. In 2017, the NPCC passed the 50 Affiliate mark and now represents more than 350,000 native plant enthusiasts. The mission of the NPCC is to promote the conservation of native plants and their habitats through collaboration, education, research and advocacy. This presentation will describe the NPCC, our approach to native plant conservation advocacy, and our plans for 2020 and beyond, including programs to encourage use of locally adapted native plants in landscaping and land management, increase staffing and funding for plant science and conservation, and strengthen legal protections for imperiled plants. The presentation will also discuss the growing understanding of the ecosystem services delivered by native plant communities, such as water purification, erosion control, storm protection, pollinator habitat, and buffering of climate change. In recent years, our understanding of the breadth of these services and of their importance to human societies and economies has increased tremendously. This offers new tools effectively to communicate the importance of native plant conservation to audiences that traditionally have been difficult to reach. Even those not interested in native plants for their beauty or inherent value may support conservation and restoration of native plant communities when they learn that it can save $100s of millions in hurricane damage, $billions in water treatment costs, improve public health and save lives.

Date Recorded: 
Thursday, March 5, 2020

Dr. Elizabeth Crisfield and Karen Terwilliger, Strategic Stewardship Initiative

State boundaries have always been invisible to biota. But now, as climate change shifts climatic regimes over the landscape, as more invasive species become established, as people move native and exotic species from place to place – regional collaborative conservation across state lines is needed more than ever to provide effective stewardship of native biodiversity. In concert with other regional conservation initiatives, one way to specifically communicate shared priorities for rare plants is by creating a list of Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need. These are species for which the 17 states and territories comprising the SePPCon footprint represent more than 50% of the plants’ native range and whose populations are in decline. In some cases, threats responsible for species’ declines are shared in the region and can be mitigated collaboratively. In other cases, genetic diversity in the SePPCon region can be studied to support stronger conservation programs. The Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need list can help communicate shared priority species between colleagues in agencies, academia, and non-profit conservation partners. The list can also facilitate inclusion of plants in the 2025 revisions of the State Wildlife Action Plans, as well as being referenced in grant proposal justifications to demonstrate the importance of research and other activities. In this presentation, we will explore the opportunity to develop a Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need list for plants in the SePPCon geographic area.

Date Recorded: 
Thursday, March 5, 2020

Dr. Jon Ambrose, Georgia DNR, Chief of Wildlife Conservation

All state wildlife agencies in the Southeast have developed State Wildlife Action Plans, strategic plans for conservation of rare or declining species and their habitats. Some states have included plants as species of greatest conservation need, and others are considering doing so in the next revision of their plans. In recent years, states have recognized the need to focus additional resources on landscape scale conservation planning and implementation. The Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS) is a regional conservation initiative that spans the Southeastern United States and Caribbean. SECAS emerged as a response to the unprecedented challenges facing our natural and cultural resources, including urban growth and climate change. Participating states and organizations have contributed to the development of the Southeast Conservation Blueprint, a dynamic spatial plan that identifies the most important areas for conservation and restoration across the region. The shared vision of SECAS is a connected network of lands and waters that supports thriving fish and wildlife populations and improved quality of life for people as well as a goal of 10% or greater improvement in the health, function, and connectivity of southeastern ecosystems by 2060. In addition, SEAFWA states recently collaborated on a project to develop a list of regional species of greatest conservation need from the very large number of species identified as priorities in fifteen State Wildlife Action Plans. This list, which serves as a complement to the Southeast Conservation Blueprint, will facilitate prioritization of conservation projects and collaboration among states within the region. Developing and implementing conservation plans across landscapes and suites of species requires financial resources well in excess of those currently available to state agencies and partner organizations. Recovering America's Wildlife Act (HR 3742), introduced in July 2019, would allocate a total of $1.4 billion annually to state and tribal agencies to address the full range of conservation needs articulated in State Wildlife Action Plans. A national coalition of organizations is working for passage of this landmark federal bill, which will provide critical funding for conservation of native species and natural communities throughout the country.

Date Recorded: 
Thursday, March 5, 2020

Jessica L. Allen, PhD, Southeastern Center for Conservation, Atlanta Botanical Garden

Dr. Allen outlines a conservation genomics approach to assessing genetic diversity between geographically separated populations of the Rock Gnome lichen, a Southern Appalachian endemic. Her results show that each locale sampled has a genetically distinct population. This suggests that the management plan for this lichen should include protecting all of the occurrences in order to preserve the greatest amount of genetic diversity within the species.

Date Recorded: 
Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Dr. Carlos Ramirez-Reyes1, D. Todd Jones-Farrand3, Garret Street1,2, Francisco Vilella4, Kristine O. Evans 1,2

1. Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University

2. Quantitative Ecology & Spatial Technologies Laboratory, Mississippi State University

3. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 302 Natural Resources, University of Missouri 4. U.S. Geological Survey, Mississippi Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Effective conservation planning requires reliable information on the distribution of species, which is often incomplete due to limited availability of data. Species distribution models (SDMs) and associated tools have proliferated in the past decades and have proven valuable in evaluating suitability and critical habitat for species. However, conservation practitioners have not fully adopted SDMs to inform surveys and other monitoring efforts. Instead, most efforts rely on expert knowledge and other traditional methods to locate extant populations. In particular, the Species Status Assessment (SSA) initiative of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would benefit from incorporating SDM approaches to facilitate conservation decisions. Here, we describe an SDM approach for at-risk species that could be considered for SSA and similar species monitoring efforts. We applied 4 modeling techniques (generalized additive, maximum entropy, generalized boosted, and weighted ensemble) to recent monitoring data for 4 at-risk plant species (Scutellaria ocmulgee, Balduina atropurpurea, Rhynchospora crinipes and Torreya taxifolia) in the Southeastern U.S. Our results showed that ensemble distribution models reduced uncertainty caused by differences among modeling techniques and improved the predictive accuracy of fitted models. These models highlight areas with high habitat suitability for a particular species and therefore candidates for additional monitoring and survey efforts. We suggest that this approach could be adopted into the SSA framework to develop more robust and efficient assessments of at-risk species.

Date Recorded: 
Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Clayton W. Hale, Mississippi State University

Joshua J. Granger, Mississippi State University

The number and severity of Gulf Coast hurricanes is increasing, resulting in intensified disturbance on coastal forest communities. Atlantic white-cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides L.) grows no further than one hundred miles from the coast, making the species particularly vulnerable when hurricanes collide with the coast. Occurring primarily along the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Florida, the species does form isolated stands along the Gulf Coast regions of Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. In Mississippi and Alabama, the species is considered imperiled and vulnerable, respectively, according to NatureServ. Atlantic white-cedar is imperiled and is at risk of extirpation from the Gulf Coast by extreme weather events, altered disturbance regimes, changes in hydrology, and management. This study evaluates the recovery of an Atlantic white-cedar stand fourteen years post Hurricane Katrina. Pre- and post- Hurricane Katrina data were compared with recent data to determine how Gulf Coast stands of Atlantic white-cedar recover post disturbance. Understanding the long-term recovery of Atlantic white-cedar stands after a hurricane allows land managers and conservationist to more effectively manage these systems for the perpetuation of the species on the Gulf Coast.

Date Recorded: 
Wednesday, March 4, 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

Sara Johnson, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science at University of Illinois: UrbanaChampaign

Brenda Molano-Flores, Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign

Janice Coons, Eastern Illinois University

Many rare and at-risk species exhibit a paucity of research, leaving gaps in the knowledge required to conserve them. Macbridea alba Chapman (White birds-in-a-nest, Lamiaceae) is a federally threatened and state endangered herbaceous mint restricted to a narrow distribution in the longleaf pine ecosystem of the Florida panhandle. Habitat conversion and destruction are among the primary reasons for Macbridea alba’s decline. Populations are highly fragmented by plantations, clear cuts, or development resulting in extirpation in some areas. Whereas known Macbridea alba populations are primarily found within Apalachicola National Forest, it is uncertain exactly how many exist, and few are documented outside of protected areas. There are many unknowns regarding the ecology of this species; however, previous research suggests that microhabitat differences and disturbance play an important role in its reproduction and survival. Habitat suitability models are a useful tool for gaining insight into the potential drivers of species distribution and persistence on the landscape. These models can define the environmental predictors of occurrence and facilitate the discovery of previously unknown populations. Additionally, these models can guide conservation of areas for potential reintroduction based on habitat conditions and proximity to known source populations. We have created preliminary habitat suitability models using known occurrence records for Macbridea alba as well as open sourced environmental spatial data to identify new areas of potentially suitable habitat. In 2019, field surveys were conducted for the purpose of model verification resulting in the discovery new populations. In the future, models using a disturbance variable such as fire season or time since fire, will be used to determine if the models could be improved. The results from the improved models will help us understand the specific role of fire management and fire frequency on the persistence and survival of this species. Additionally, it will assist us in defining range limits and environmental parameters for Macbridea alba’s distribution and whether it is a candidate for reintroduction or ex-situ conservation efforts.

 

 

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