Matching Items (3)

154100-Thumbnail Image.png

Amsonia kearneyana (Apocynaceae) Kearney's Blue Star: new insights to inform recovery

Description

Amsonia kearneyana is an endangered herbaceous plant endemic to a small area of the Baboquivari Mountains in southern Arizona. It exists in two distinct habitat types: 1) along the banks

Amsonia kearneyana is an endangered herbaceous plant endemic to a small area of the Baboquivari Mountains in southern Arizona. It exists in two distinct habitat types: 1) along the banks of a lower elevation ephemeral stream in a xeroriparian community, and 2) a higher elevation Madrean oak woodland on steep mountain slopes. Half of the largest known montane population (Upper Brown Canyon) was burned in a large fire in 2009 raising questions of the species capacity to recover after fire. This research sought to understand how the effects of fire will impact A. kearneyana's ability to recruit and survive in the burned versus unburned areas and in the montane versus xeroriparian habitat.

I compared population size, abiotic habitat characteristics, leaf traits, plant size, and reproductive output for plants in each habitat area for three years. Plants in the more shaded unburned montane area, the most populated population, presented with the most clonal establishment but produced the least amount of seeds per plant. The unshaded burned area produced more seeds per plant than in the unburned area. Lower Brown Canyon, the xeroriparian area, had the fewest plants, but produced the most seeds per plant while experiencing higher soil temperature, soil moisture, photosynthetically active radiation, and canopy cover than the montane plants. This could indicate conditions in Lower Brown Canyon are more favorable for seed production.

Despite ample seed production, recruitment is rare in wild plants. This study establishes germination requirements testing soil type, seed burial depth, temperature regimes, and shade treatments. Trials indicate that A. kearneyana can germinate and grow in varied light levels, and that soil type and seed burial depth are better predictors of growth than the degree of shade.

Finally, this study examined the law, regulation, policy, and physiological risks and benefits of a new management strategy and suggests that "conservation by dissemination" is appropriate for A. kearneyana. Conservation by dissemination is the idea that a protected plant species can be conserved by allowing and promoting the propagation and sale of plants in the commercial market with contingent collection of data on the fate of the sold individuals.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

154740-Thumbnail Image.png

Screwbean mesquite (Prosopis pubescens) die-off: population status at restored and unrestored sites in the lower Colorado River Watershed

Description

Die-off of screwbean mesquite (Prosopis pubescens), a species native to the American Southwest, has been documented regionally within the last decade. Historical causes for episodic mortality of the more widely

Die-off of screwbean mesquite (Prosopis pubescens), a species native to the American Southwest, has been documented regionally within the last decade. Historical causes for episodic mortality of the more widely distributed velvet mesquite (Prosopis velutina) and honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) include water table declines and flood scour. Causes of the recent die-offs of P. pubescens have received little study. Numerous riparian restoration projects have been implemented regionally that include screwbean mesquite. Restoration propagules from foreign sources can introduce diseases, and low genetic diversity plantings may allow for disease irruptions. I asked: 1) Are die-offs associated with a particular age class, 2) Is die-off suggestive of a pathogen or related to specific environmental stressors, 3) Are mortality influences and outcomes the same between restoration and local populations, 4) Are particular land uses and management associated with die-off, and 5) Are populations rebounding or keeping pace with mortality?

I documented the screwbean mesquite population status at rivers and wetlands in Arizona with varying levels of restoration. I used logistic regression and Pearson correlation analysis to explore mortality response to site factors and disease related variables. I compared mortality response and disease severity between local and restoration populations.

Biotic damage surfaced as the most important factor in statistical analyses, suggesting that mortality was caused by a pathogen. Mortality was greatest for young size classes (3 to 14 cm), and biotic damage was higher for individuals at infrequently flooded areas. Strong differences were not found between local and restoration populations – however restoration populations were less stressed and had lower biotic damage. Novel urban and restored sites may provide refuge as site conditions at other locations deteriorate. A culmination of past water diversion, development and land use may be surfacing, rendering riparian species vulnerable to diseases and triggering such events as region-wide die-off.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

156911-Thumbnail Image.png

Fire and Reseeding Effects on Arizona Upland Plant Community Composition and a Preliminary Floristic Inventory of Cave Creek Regional Park

Description

Baseline community composition data provides a snapshot in time that allows changes in composition to be monitored more effectively and can inform best practices. This study examines Arizona Upland plant

Baseline community composition data provides a snapshot in time that allows changes in composition to be monitored more effectively and can inform best practices. This study examines Arizona Upland plant community composition of the Sonoran Desert through three different lenses: floristic inventory, and fire and reseeding effects.

A floristic inventory was conducted at Cave Creek Regional Park (CCRP), Maricopa County, AZ. One hundred fifty-four taxa were documented within Park boundaries, including 148 species and six infraspecific taxa in 43 families. Asteraceae, Boraginaceae, and Fabaceae accounted for 40% of documented species and annuals accounted for 56% of documented diversity.

Fire effects were studied at three locations within McDowell Sonoran Preserve (MSP), Scottsdale, AZ. These fires occurred throughout the 1990s and recovered naturally. Fire and reseeding effects were studied at the site of a 2005 fire within CCRP that was reseeded immediately following the fire.

Two questions underlie the study regarding fire and reseeding effects: 1) How did fire and reseeding affect the cover and diversity of the plant communities? 2) Is there a difference in distribution of cover between treatments for individual species or growth habits? To address these questions, I compared burned and adjacent unburned treatments at each site, with an additional reseeded treatment added at CCRP.

MSP sites revealed overall diversity and cover was similar between treatments, but succulent cover was significantly reduced, and subshrub cover was significantly greater in the burn treatment. Seventeen species showed significant difference in distribution of cover between treatments.

The CCRP reseeded site revealed 11 of 28 species used in the seed mix persist 12 years post-fire. The reseeded treatment showed greater overall diversity than burned and unburned treatments. Succulent and shrub cover were significantly reduced by fire while subshrub cover was significantly greater in the reseeded treatment. Sixteen species showed significant difference in distribution of cover between treatments.

Fire appears to impact plant community composition across Arizona Upland sites. Choosing species to include in seed mixes for post-fire reseeding, based on knowledge of pre-fire species composition and individual species’ fire responses, may be a useful tool to promote post-fire plant community recovery.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018