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Abstract Detail

Ecological Section

Wright, Samuel [1], Roncal, Julissa [2], Maschinski, Joyce [3], Lane, Cynthia [4].

Determining Optimal Habitat for Endangered Plant Restoration in Disturbed Ecosystems Using Two Complementary Approaches.

Identifying suitable habitat for rare plant recovery projects is vital to achieve optimal sustainability. Site selection for rare species is especially challenging in the face of dynamism and reduced habitat. Prior to implementing a landscape-scale restoration, we compared experimental and observational approaches for assessing optimal habitat preference of federally endangered Jacquemontia reclinata within the dynamic dune ecosystem of southeastern Florida, USA. For the experimental approach, we planted 90 plants into 3 transects along a gradient running perpendicular to the ocean and measured factors that can be associated with survival and growth. Although survival did not significantly differ across the gradient, most mortality was related to storms, herbivory, and hardwood hammock encroachment that occurred in plots closest to or furthest from the ocean. Growth was greatest in plots with low salt accumulation (1.37 μS/cm) and low elevation (0.69 m above mean high tide), thus these two factors can be used as growth predictors. Our observational approach assessed vegetation and soil characteristics associated with the presence of J. reclinata using multivariate analysis. J. reclinata occupied plots contained a higher number of graminoid and herbaceous species, while unoccupied plots contained higher soluble salts. Both experimental and observational approaches identified low salt concentrations, high graminoid and herbaceous diversity as significant factors explaining J. reclinata presence. We determined that optimal habitat for J. reclinata is wedged between ocean-side stochastic disturbance and landward-side succession of woody vegetation with associated threats of forest-dwelling mammalian herbivores. Both approaches enabled us to identify unforeseen variables that influence the speciesí persistence. We feel that the two approaches provide a conceptual model that can be applied to other ecosystems and assist in identifying optimal habitat for rare plant restoration.

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1 - Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Center for Tropical Plant Conservation, 11935 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables, Miami, Florida, 33156-4242, USA
2 - University of Aarhus, Department of Biology, Bygning 1540, Ny Munkegade 114, Aarhus, Denmark
3 - Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 11935 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables, Miami, Florida, 33156-4299
4 - Ecological Strategies, P.O. Box 3, Maiden Rock, Wisconsin, 54750, USA

coastal strand
dune dynamics
Jacquemontia reclinata
stochastic factors
Plant conservation
southeastern Florida
plant population ecology

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for BSA Sections
Session: 43
Location: Alpine B/Snowbird Center
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
Time: 10:45 AM
Number: 43003
Abstract ID:541