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Lake Wales, FL, United States

Richardson M.L.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute | Keathley C.P.,E.I. Du Pont de Nemours and Company | Peterson C.L.,Rare Plant Conservation Program
Population Ecology | Year: 2016

Understanding reproductive systems of rare plants is critical for conservation efforts. Lakela’s Mint, Dicerandra immaculata Lakela var. immaculata, is an endangered plant endemic to an approximately 4.8-km long area in Florida, USA. We used an experimental garden and three populations of Lakela’s Mint to determine: (1) what is the breeding system (autonomous, asexual, self-fertile, cross-fertile) and are insects necessary for reproduction; (2) which native and nonnative insect species visit flowers and is the frequency of visits to a plant influenced by its height; (3) does the number of flowers visited within a plant by individual insects differ among native and nonnative insect species and due to plant height; and (4) is seed output influenced by plant height? Our results indicate that the breeding system of Lakela’s Mint was facultative outcrossing. Insect-pollinated flowers produced more seeds than flowers that reproduced autonomously or asexually. The honey bee Apis mellifera L., a nonnative species, was the most frequent visitor to plants and visited more flowers within plants than native pollinators, but its behavior was not influenced by plant height. Native pollinators such as Bombus impatiens Cresson were attracted more frequently to shorter plants, but visited fewer flowers than on taller plants. Despite having fewer total and pollinated flowers, shorter plants had a higher output of intact seeds than taller plants, which could be due to differences in efficiency between native and nonnative pollinators or other factors. Our results add insight into factors influencing seed output and interactions between pollinators and rare plants. © 2015, The Society of Population Ecology and Springer Japan. Source


Peterson C.L.,Rare Plant Conservation Program | Kaufmann G.S.,Florida Park Service | Vandello C.,Florida Park Service | Richardson M.L.,U.S. Department of Agriculture
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Species previously unknown to science are continually discovered and some of these species already face extinction at the time of their discovery. Conserving new and rare species in these cases becomes a trial-and-error process and conservationists will attempt to manage them by using knowledge of closely related species, or those that fill the same ecological niche, and then adapting the management program as needed. Savannas Mint (Dicerandra immaculata Lakela var. savannarum Huck) is a perennial plant that was discovered in Florida scrub habitat at two locations in 1995, but is nearly extinct at these locations. We tested whether shade, leaf litter, propagation method, parent genotype, parent collection site, planting date, and absorbent granules influenced survival, reproduction, and recruitment of Savannas Mint in a population of 1,614 plants that we introduced between June 2006 and July 2009 into a state protected site. Survival and reproduction of introduced plants, and recruitment of new plants, was higher in microhabitats in full sun and no leaf litter and lower in partially shaded habitats. The two sites from which parent plants were collected differentially influenced survival and reproduction of introduced plants. These differences in survival and reproduction are likely due to underlying genetic differences. Differential survival of progeny from different parent genotypes further supports the idea that underlying genetics is an important consideration when restoring plant populations. The most successful progeny of parent genotypes had survival rates nearly 12 times higher than the least successful progeny. We speculate that many of these environmental and genetic factors are likely to influence allopatric congeners and other critically endangered gap specialists that grow in Florida scrub and our results can be used to guide their conservation. © 2013 Peterson et al. Source


Richardson M.L.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Watson M.L.J.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Peterson C.L.,Rare Plant Conservation Program
Plant Ecology | Year: 2013

Community structure at local scales is a major factor controlling population and community dynamics of plant species. Dicerandra immaculata Lakela var. immaculata (Lamiaceae) is a critically endangered plant known only from a few locations in scrub habitat in Florida. Using seven sites where populations of D. immaculata were wild, introduced, and/or extirpated, we sought to answer the following questions: (1) how do habitat characteristics at locations supporting wild D. immaculata plants vary from random locations within the same habitat; (2) how do habitat characteristics differ between wild and extirpated populations; and (3) how do habitat characteristics differ between wild and introduced populations? At locations of wild D. immaculata, community structure had fewer woody stems, shorter understory vegetation, lower percent canopy coverage, and lower percent ground cover of detritus than random locations and locations with extirpated D. immaculata. In addition, bare ground decreased at extirpated locations because other plant species expanded their coverage, water saturation of the soil increased, diversity of shrubs decreased, and composition of the overstory changed compared to that of wild locations. Habitat characteristics associated with introduced plants were more similar to characteristics at randomly chosen locations than those with wild plants. However, introduced plants tended to occupy locations that had drier soil, a higher abundance of conspecifics, and a higher proportion of woody understory plants than that of random locations. Overall, gaps in the canopy and at ground level are likely essential for survival and recruitment of D. immaculata. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Source


Richardson M.L.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute | Rynear J.,Rare Plant Conservation Program | Peterson C.L.,Rare Plant Conservation Program
Plant Ecology | Year: 2014

Elucidating microhabitat preferences of a rare species are critical for its conservation. Lupinus aridorum McFarlin ex Beckner (Fabaceae) is a critically endangered plant known only from a few locations in imperiled Florida scrub habitat and nothing is known about its preferred microhabitat. Our goals were threefold. First, determine whether L. aridorum has multiple cytotypes because this can influence its spatial distribution. Second, measure how microhabitat characteristics at locations supporting wild L. aridorum vary from random locations, which will provide information about microhabitat characteristics that influence the spatial distribution of individuals. Third, measure whether microhabitat characteristics differ between locations supporting wild or introduced plants, which will provide information about the realized and fundamental niche. Our research determined that L. aridorum is diploid and grew, on average, in areas closer to trees and shrubs, with lower soil moisture, and with a greater mixture of detritus than random locations. Some microhabitat characteristics at locations where L. aridorum were introduced were similar to microhabitat supporting wild L. aridorum, but multiple soil characteristics differed as did the plant community, which contained more nonnative plant species near introduced plants. Therefore, the realized niche is narrower than the fundamental niche. Overall, information about the microhabitat of L. aridorum can be used to design appropriate management programs to conserve and restore populations of this plant species and species that occupy a similar niche in imperiled Florida scrub. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht (outside the USA). Source

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