Inspired by nature: Using wild populations to inform rare species translocations and evaluate success

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Stephanie Koontz

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Translocations are an increasingly utilized tool for rare plant conservation, as habitats continue to be fragmented or degraded. However, knowledge gaps in a species’ basic ecology can lead to failed attempts at translocations. Wild populations provide a priori knowledge of a species’ basic biology and ecological requirements to help inform translocations. In the heavily fragmented Florida scrub, translocations are recommended as a key step towards recovery for many listed species, including the federally endangered Dicerandra christmanii (Lamiaceae). In 1994, we began monitoring the only protected wild population in permanent plots. Using 16 years of a priori information from ~ 3,300 plants, we designed two experimental translocations (an augmentation and introduction). Here, we determine if translocations share similar vital rates and trajectories as wild sites. Mean annual survival was similar among wild (76%), augmented (74%) and introduced (76%) cohorts. Mean relative growth rate of wild and augmented cohorts were 0.556 and 0.599, respectively, but 0.922 for introduced cohorts. A significant interaction between site and plant age for both survival and relative growth indicates differing patterns in these two demographic metrics. Recruits in the introduction flowered earlier (1.67 years) and were larger (mean branches 28.9; flowering branches 10.1), compared to augmented (age 2.11; branches 19.9; flowering 5.7) and wild (age 2.37; branches 22.8; flowering 5.0) plants. These data suggest vital rates of translocations are comparable or higher than wild sites. Translocations may be viable options for species recovery but continued monitoring and analyses will add insights into the mechanisms for translocation success.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Society for Ecological Restoration