2018 National Meeting

James Lange and Jennifer Possley, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

In the event of a hurricane, low elevation and proximity to the coast place Fairchild at high risk, and thus contingency plans must be in place to preserve our ex situ collections. Anticipating severe damage and extended power loss from Hurricane Irma, we took several measures to protect our conservation collections. We will discuss actions taken by conservation staff and lessons learned from this unique storm.

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Sean Hoban, Emma Spence, and Patrick Thompson, The Morton Arboretum

The Morton Arboretum seeks to improve the conservation value and genetic representation in ex situ collections by developing guidance for sampling seed. One example regards IUCN Critically Endangered Quercus boyntonii (Boynton sand post oak), which is endemic to Alabama and only occurs on exposed sandstone outcrops.In situ threats include overcrowding by invasive species, off trail disturbance by humans, and the threat of wildfires. To help safeguard this species in case wild populations are lost, we compared genetic diversity of wild Quercus boyntonii populations to ex situ collections. We collected 246 individuals from 11 locations in the wild and 77 samples from 14 botanic gardens across the United States. We used microsatellite DNA markers to quantify genetic variation existing in the wild samples and calculate the proportion of genetic variation that exists in ex situ collections. This is a direct measure of the success of the collective efforts to build conservation collections. We found that current ex situ collections capture approximately 78% of overallgenetic diversity, and 100% of common alleles. We also used a resampling technique to determine how efficient this collection is, and we showed that a smallerex situcollection may be sufficient if it is carefully planned. The overall message is that ex situ collections of a taxon spread across a number of institutions can safeguard a species’ genetic diversity. This work is part of a large, multi-institution project in which genetic variation in ex situ collections of 10 species will be quantified. Our end goal is to provide advice to the garden community about how to establish and maintain ex situ tree collections, which includes initiatives to distribute germplasm collaboratively.

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Friday, May 4, 2018

Kim McCue, Shannon Felberg and Steve Blackwell
Desert Botanic Garden

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Friday, May 4, 2018

Bill Brumback (New England Wildflower Society) and Jay O’Neil (Smithsonian Experimental Research Center)

Seeds of terrestrial orchid species are small and essentially without food reserves, but data on the longevity in the wild of seed of most orchid species is lacking. In October 2003, packets containing seeds of the Federally Threatened orchid, Isotria medeoloides, small whorled pogonia, were buried within a population of this species in New Hampshire. Seeds packets were removed from the soil for testing in 2007 and again in 2017. Seeds were examined for viable embryos and also tested with Triphenyltetrazolium chloride (TTC) for viability. Results showed that in 2007 over 50% of the seeds remained viable, and by 2017, more than 13 years after burial, the number had only dropped to 42%. There was no evidence of germination or mycorrhizal association in the buried seeds. These results indicate the potential for a persistent soil seedbank for this orchid species, despite its minute seeds. Protocols for ex situ seed banking of many terrestrial orchids have yet to be developed, but in situ soil seedbank experiments with orchid seeds can give clues to the survival potential of a population in the wild.

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Jim Locklear, Lauritzen Gardens

Research into the biology and conservation needs of an at-risk plant species can lead to better understanding of the plant community that supports the species and inform ecosystem scale conservation efforts. This has been the experience of Lauritzen Gardens in working with Dalea cylindriceps (Fabaceae), a G3 species native to the western Great Plains. Our field survey for this rare prairie clover revealed a strong association with sandsage prairie, a shrub-steppe community that is of conservation concern in five states in the Great Plains. Given the need to understand the dynamics of this vegetation, we are now engaged in an initiative to identify the processes and patterns that sustain the ecological health and integrity of sandsage prairie. We recently conducted a multi-species (14 taxa) rare plant survey in the sandsage region of Nebraska and this year will undertake a reconnaissance survey of sandsage prairie throughout its range in the Great Plains. This work will result in the first comprehensive publication on the ecology and floristic composition of sandsage prairie and will hopefully yield insights that will inform conservation management practices.

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Seana Walsh and Dustin Wolkis, National Tropical Botanical Garden

New fungal pathogens are threatening the most ecologically and culturally important native tree in Hawai‘i, ‘ōhi‘a (Metrosideros spp.). Two undescribed taxa of Ceratocystis cause Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death (ROD), destroying large stands of ‘ōhi‘a forest on Hawai‘i Island. In preparation for the potential future spread of ROD across the state, seeds of all Metrosideros taxa on all the Hawaiian islands need to be collected, banked, and reciprocated, for resistance testing and for use in potential, future reintroductions. One of the main challenges in initiating a coordinated effort to collect seeds on Kaua‘i is deciding how much seed to collect and from which locations. Seed zones, geographically delineated areas within which seed from originating zone can be transferred to help ensure material is ecologically appropriate for the local environment, were not established in Hawai‘i. Staff from the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) and Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, worked together to create generalized provisional seed zones for the island of Kaua‘i. Further, a proposal submitted to the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority by NTBG, to collect, bank and reciprocate seed collections, was supported. Across all 10 seed zones and all four Metrosideros taxa native to Kaua‘i, our collection goal for 2018 is between 6 and 20 million seeds, through both single and bulk seed collections, from over 1,000 individual trees. This work is currently underway.

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Johnny Randall and Michael Kunz (North Carolina Botanical Garden, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), and Jamie Winshell, Corbin D. Jones and Gregory P. Copenhaver (Department of Biology and Integrative Program for Biological & Genome Sciences,University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Venus’ flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is the most widely recognized carnivorous plant, and endemic to only 100 km landward radius around Wilmington, North Carolina, USA. Although a few large populations occur on protected lands, the number of individuals is declining, entire populations are being extirpated, and a seemingly secure species is now vulnerable to local extinction and loss of wild genetic variation. We used Restriction site-Associated DNA sequencing (RAD-seq) to evaluate the genetic architecture of Venus flytrap populations across its entire range. In addition, we collected and banked over 25,000 seeds from 20 populations as a long-term conservation resource. Initial analysis of 160 RAD-seq derived markers indicate limited genetic variation within the first population sampled. Genetic variation was surprisingly heterogeneous across loci with some populations harboring appreciable variation and others harboring next to none. This initial analysis is ongoing for approximately 150 populations to provide a high-resolution assessment of the existing genetic variation, which will help guide future conservation efforts and understand species phylogeography.

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Emily E. D. Coffey, Ph.D., Atlanta Botanical Garden

Torreya taxifolia, known as the Florida Torreya, is one of the rarest conifers in the world. Once found as a canopy tree, Torreya is an evergreen dioecious tree endemic to a narrow range of bluffs and ravines adjacent to the Apalachicola River in northwest Florida and extreme southwest Georgia. In the mid-Twentieth Century, this species suffered a catastrophic decline as all reproductive age trees died from a disease (Fusarium torrayae) that remained unknown until very recently. In the decades that followed, this species did not recover. What remains is a population approximately 0.22% of its original size, which is subjected to changes in hydrology, forest structure, heavy browsing by deer, loss of reproduction capability, as well as dieback from fungal disease. Atlanta Botanical Garden’s dedication and efforts to protect Torreya has furthered understanding of its ecology and life cycle as well as the decline of this once majestic species. We present the new in-situ and ex-situ seed experiment we are conducting at ABG as part of the recovery effort for this species.

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Friday, May 4, 2018

Holly Forbes, University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley

UC Berkeley has an annual fundraising campaign encouraging donations during a 24-hour extravaganza called the Big Give. Each unit on campus is encouraged to participate by way of incentives (more social media posts by the public, more money provided by campus as a bonus). We focused our outreach for this effort on our popular conservation program. Donations were modest the first year when modest efforts were applied. Staff time and effort were stepped up for the second and third year, resulting in much better return ($40K). These campaigns were seeded ahead of time by established donors and print and social media were heavily utilized to reach potential donors on the day of the Big Give. In addition to financial contributions toward conservation, the Big Give helped us to better publicize our conservation program.

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Friday, May 4, 2018

Christa Horn and Joyce Maschinski, San Diego Zoo Global and Center for Plant Conservation

The primary purpose of a conservation collection is to support species’ survival and reduce the extinction risk of globally and/or regionally rare species. A conservation collection is an ex situ (offsite) collection of seeds, plant tissues, or whole plants that has accurate records of provenance, maternal lines differentiated, and diverse genetic representation of a species’ wild populations. To be most useful for species survival in the wild, a conservation collection should have depth, meaning that it contains seeds, tissues or whole plants of at least 50 unrelated mother plants, and breadth, meaning it consists of accessions from multiple populations across the range of the species. Conservation collections of seeds should have tests of initial germination and viability, cultivation protocols developed, and periodic testing of long-term viability.

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Date Recorded: 
Friday, May 4, 2018