Dionaea muscipula (Venus Flytrap) Establishment, Release, and Response of Associated Species in Mowed Patches on the Rims of Carolina Bays

Authors

  • James O Luken

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biology, PO Box 261954, Coastal Carolina University, Conway, SC 29528, U.S.A.
      Address correspondence to J. O. Luken, email JoLuken@coastal.edu
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Address correspondence to J. O. Luken, email JoLuken@coastal.edu

Abstract

Carolina bays are depression wetlands of high conservation value that occur across the Southeastern Coastal Plain of the United States. Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is one rare carnivorous plant that grows in open habitats on the rims of Carolina bays. Without frequent burning, vegetation on bay rims becomes dominated by evergreen shrubs and Venus flytrap populations decline. This project examined the utility of mechanical mowing, soil clearing, transplanting, and seeding as an approach to restoring populations of Venus flytraps when fire is precluded. Mowing of patches on bay rims produced open sites with little ground-layer vegetation. After two growing seasons, adult Venus flytraps transplanted to mowed patches showed high survivorship and relatively high leaf number/plant. Suppressed Venus flytraps existing on-site quickly initiated growth in response to mowing. These volunteers and the transplants had higher flowering percentages than plants in reference populations. Seeds of Venus flytraps were scattered in mowed and cleared plots. Seedling establishment was low, but seedlings persisted into the second growing season. Mowing created suitable habitat for growth and flowering of adult Venus flytraps and facilitated establishment of two other carnivorous species, Sundew (Drosera capillaris) and Bladderwort (Utricularia subulata). But, mowing and clearing also facilitated invasion by four species of grasses and rushes; evergreen shrubs resprouted quickly after mowing. Maintaining persistent openings by mowing the rims of Carolina bays will be an ongoing challenge due to availability of potential invaders and rapid regrowth of shrubs.

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