SePPCon 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

Gary Kauffman, National Forests of North Carolina

US National Forests (NF) revise their forest plans every 15-20 years. Currently the Nantahala and Pisgah NFs (NPNF), 1 million plus acres, are in plan revision. As part of the process, management areas are reassessed including designated sites. Special Interest Areas (SIAs) are designated to denote special features across the landscape. The majority are based on natural features or elements such as rare species, rare habitats, or high-quality plant communities. The NC Natural Heritage Program (NCNHP) delineates natural areas (NHNAs) across NC, including 230,000 acres across the NPNF. It denotes these with five classifications from the highest, exceptional, to the least, general. Of these, the NCNHP requested all the exceptional NHNAs, about 115,000 acres, be designated as SIAs. In the draft plan revision, the number of SIA acres has been doubled to around 103,000 acres. The discussion will describe the evaluation process and the continuing evolving process on assessing the undesignated and other classified acres as a USFS-NCNHP team. As part of the Nantahala and Pisgah NFs plan revision, an assessment was completed for the prescribe burn program. A critical question was whether we were burning in the right places, both for ecological benefit as well as fuel reduction. Neighborhood modeling in a GIS was used to derive ecological fire prioritization areas. The model used six separately weighted fire adapted ecological zones as well as fire adapted rare species (federally listed, endemic, and state rare with different weights). The same process was used to assess fuel reduction and community protection needs with incorporation of rankings from the southern wildfire risk assessment report. The discussion will look at the overlap between these two separate models as well as prescribe burns and or wildfires during the last 12 years within any of these areas.

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

Dr. Michele Elmore, US Fish & Wildlife Service Lindsay Dombroskie, Texas A & M University, Natural Resources Institute

Georgia rockcress (Arabis georgiana Harper) is a short-lived perennial plant of the mustard family (Brassicaceae) endemic to Alabama and Georgia. In 2014, this species was listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) as “Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act due to ongoing threats from development that either destroys or degrades habitat, and facilitates the invasion of nonnative species. The Service is currently conducting a 5-Year Status Review of the species and will develop a formal Recovery Plan. To support the 5-Year Status Review and development of the Recovery Plan a Species Status Assessment (SSA) was conducted. The SSA considers what the species needs to maintain longterm viability by characterizing the status of the species in terms of its resiliency, redundancy, and representation (together the 3Rs). Population resiliency was measured by population size, and habitat suitability, degradation and protection. Species redundancy and representation was measured by the number of populations and how they are distributed across genetic groups. In situ safeguarding has the potential to contribute to all 3Rs via population augmentations, reintroductions, and introductions. Safeguarding projects by the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance has preserved genetic stock from several Georgia populations which has contributed to multiple experimental in situ safeguarding efforts to further conserve the species. Success of these in situ conservation efforts, when combined with habitat protection and management, may prove to be essential to prevent further decline of the species in the wild and ultimately lead to recovery (delisting) of the species. We will discuss several future scenarios from the SSA that included protection, management and in situ safeguarding. We will explore next steps that include development of a range-wide Georgia rockcress Recovery Plan and recovery strategy where we consider how to move from experimental in situ safeguarding to species recovery.

Date Recorded: 
Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Stephanie Koontz, Archibold Biological Station, Cheryl L. Peterson, Bok Tower Gardens, Valerie C. Pence, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Eric S. Menges, Archbold Biological Station

Translocations are an increasingly utilized tool for rare plant conservation. Urbanization along the Lake Wales Ridge, in southcentral Florida, has led to 85% loss of native Florida scrub and sandhill. The few remaining intact patches hold a plethora of endemics. Our program has translocated several species from unprotected to protected parcels. All translocations are monitored post-outplanting and demographic data used to evaluate success. Here we present case studies for three federally listed species and discuss the challenges in restoring rare plants. Ziziphus celata has few remnant, mostly unprotected populations. Further contributing to its rarity is slow growth and limited sexual reproduction. We implemented 10 translocations between 1998 and 2012. Analyses of vital rates through 2016 determined annual survival of both wild and translocated plants is high (>90%), but growth of transplants is 1/10th the rate of wild plants. Many wild plants flower annually, yet <3% of transplants have reached reproductive maturity. Setting benchmarks for translocation success is challenging when dealing with a slow-growing, reproductively challenged species. Crotalaria avonensis has two protected and one unprotected site. Fruit set is low, requires insect pollination, and seedlings are rare. In 2012, we introduced genetic material from the unprotected site to a protected parcel. Transplants have thrived and expanded through clonal and seedling recruitment, from 84 original transplants to 208 plants in 2019. Germination of sown seeds was also a success (47%) with many surviving, flowering and fruiting. The first decade of this translocation may qualify as a success, but the ultimate test comes in long-term population responses to land management activities and climate change. Dicerandra christmanii has <10 sites, only one is protected. It relies on periodic fire to maintain open sandy gaps within the scrub matrix and persists from post-fire seedling recruitment. We have augmentated (2010) and introduction (2012) populations. Both translocations grew exponentially, but the question remained, were populations demographically viable. Using long-term demographic data from wild plants and integral projection models, we determined vital rates and predicted population trajectories were similar between wild and translocated populations. Wild populations provide a priori knowledge of a species’ basic biology and ecological requirements to inform more successful translocations.

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

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

Dr. Rebecca Hale, University of North Carolina, Asheville

Wayne Morgan, UNC Asheville Biology

Elise Powell, UNC Asheville Biology

Leila Beikmohamadi, Western Carolina University, Psychology

Mara Alexander, US Bureau of Land Management

Caroline Kennedy, UNC Asheville Biology

Jennifer Rhode Ward, UNC Asheville Biology

Pitchers of the purple pitcher plant, Sarracenia purpurea, are distinctly shorter and broader than those of other Sarracenia, which allows them to hold pools of rainwater. These phytotelma are subsequently colonized by a diverse invertebrate and microbial community, which appears to influence plant growth and reproductive effort. S. purpurea readily hybridizes with congeners to produce rosettes with morphologically intermediate pitchers, which are colonized by a similarly diverse, but less dense, community. Here, we tie together two aspects of our research investigating the ecology of hybrid pitcher plants. We show that morphology of hybrids is intermediate between that of their parent species, S. purpurea var. montana and S. jonesii (mountain sweet pitcher plant). We also show that phytotelma community diversity and number of colonists varies with pitcher morphology. Finally, we related these data to recent analyses that link phytotelma communities to plant growth and reproductive effort, and consider the implications for the conservation of cooccurring, rare pitcher plants.

Date Recorded: 
Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Dr. Sean Hoban, The Morton Arboretum, Taylor Callicrate, Species Conservation Toolkit Initiative, Chicago Zoological Society, Susan Deans, Plant Biology and Conservation Program, Northwestern University, Michael Dosmann, The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Jeremie Fant, Chicago Botanic Garden, Oliver Gailing, University of Göttingen, Kayri Havens, Chicago Botanic Garden, Andrew Hipp, The Morton Arboretum, Priyanka Kadav, Michigan Technological University, Andrea Kramer, Chicago Botanic Garden, Matthew Lobdell, The Morton Arboretum, Tracy Magellan, Abby Meyer, Botanic Gardens Conservation International, Emma Spence, Center for Tree Science, The Morton Arboretum, Patrick Thompson, Auburn University Raakel Toppila, Seana Walsh, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Murphy Westwood, The Morton Arboretum, Jordan Wood, Illinois Natural History Survey, M. Patrick Griffith, Montgomery Botanical Center

Ex situ collections such as botanic gardens inspire and educate the public, provide material for scientific study, and produce material for ecological restoration. The challenge for an efficient and effective collection is safeguarding high genetic and ecological diversity in as few samples as possible, due to the relatively small resources available for conservation. A botanic garden might have resources to maintain a few to a few hundred plants of priority species in conservation collections, but not the thousands that seed banks can preserve. Providing scientifically grounded recommendations for the number of individuals that need to be conserved, and how to collect from the wild and manage collections over time, is a pressing need. Previous work using case studies and modeling of important biological traits has established the fact that some species must be sampled differently, and that widely used standard sample sizes might not be optimal practice for capturing the maximum diversity. We present here a comparative study of ex situ gene conservation in three southeastern oaks (Quercus georgiana, oglethorpensis and boyntonii) and two magnolias (M. pyramidata and asheii). Specifically, we use genetic datasets and resampling algorithms to: quantify how much genetic diversity has been captured in a global network of botanic garden collections currently, resample the wild population genetic datasets to determine how much genetic diversity could be captured by varying sample sizes, determine minimal sampling needed to capture 70% and 95% of the genetic diversity, and use a diminishing returns method to calculate optimal stopping points- when additional collection effort no longer provides sufficient gains. Between 62 and 72% of genetic diversity is currently safeguarded for the oaks, and about 80% is conserved for the magnolias. The recommended collection size depends on key decisions by curators about the type of genetic diversity that is valued, but may range from approximately 50 to 200 individuals. We hope that these findings motivate future seed collections from wild provenances for botanic garden collections and stimulate discussion on ex situ gene conservation goals and outcomes.

Date Recorded: 
Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Christina Carrero, The Morton Arboretum, Emily Coffey, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Patrick Griffith, Montgomery Botanical Center

A 2019 study by Griffith, et al. showed that gardens must collaborate to conserve genetic diversity, especially for exceptional species whose seeds cannot be properly seed banked. This process of capturing the genetic diversity of exceptional species in ex situ collections requires a tailored strategy for each species, emphasizing the need for a coordinated effort by botanic gardens. By working through networked consortia, botanic gardens can implement innovative solutions to safeguard these species in a changing world. We highlight a new initiative to conserve genetic diversity of exceptional species through a coordinated effort of gardens, using oak, magnolia, maple, and cycad consortia as case-studies. We outline the challenges and opportunities of conserving exceptional species within these distinct plant groups, providing solutions and recommendations that can guide collection efforts for other groups.The audience will gain a better understanding of exceptional plant species, conservation challenges, and innovative solutions. Participants will be provided with the tools and framework to join or create a consortium as a way to contribute to the conservation efforts of threatened exceptional plants. Our hope is that these presentations will gain new consortium members, growing a diverse, coordinated network of institutions and experts who will advance our goal in preventing the extinction of the world’s exceptional species. Ultimately, by working through networked consortia, the sum of our efforts is greater than its parts.

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