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Rescue and Restoration: Experimental Translocation of Amorpha herbacea Walter var. crenulata (Rybd.) Isley into a Novel Urban Habitat

Authors

  • Kristie S. Wendelberger,

    Corresponding author
    1. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 11935 Old Cutler Road, Miami, FL 33156-4299, U.S.A.
      Address correspondence to K. S. Wendelberger, email kwendelb@email.unc.edu
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  • Meghan Q. N. Fellows,

    1. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 11935 Old Cutler Road, Miami, FL 33156-4299, U.S.A.
    2. Resource Management Division, Fairfax County Park Authority, 12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 936, Fairfax, VA 22035-1118, U.S.A.
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  • Joyce Maschinski

    1. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 11935 Old Cutler Road, Miami, FL 33156-4299, U.S.A.
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Address correspondence to K. S. Wendelberger, email kwendelb@email.unc.edu

Abstract

Though translocations of rare populations should be considered only as the last resort for species’ conservation, when habitat destruction is imminent, it may be the only means to preserve a species. With over half the known, wild federally endangered Crenulate leadplant (Amorpha herbacea var. crenulata), Fabaceae, growing on unprotected land slated for development, preserving this unprotected population was critical. We rescued whole plants, cuttings, and seeds for an experimental translocation. Into a restored pine rockland, once dominated by the invasive exotic tree Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius), we transplanted plants from different sources and of different sizes. Plants used were rescued from an unprotected site, seedlings, and 1-, 2-, and 7-year-old plants from Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s ex situ collection, creating a novel population in a new habitat. We also evaluated which propagule type and source had the best survival, growth, and reproduction. After 40 months, overall transplant survival was 71%. Large whole plants, rescued and nursery grown, had the best survival rates (86 and 78%), whereas cuttings had 67% survival and seedlings had only 26% survival. The restored site, once nearly a monoculture of S. terebinthifolius, is now dominated by 104 native plant species, including 17 naturally recruited state listed, plus the one translocated federally endangered plant species. In addition, one federally threatened snake species was observed on the site. These studies demonstrate that botanic garden collections not only play a vital role in the conservation of species’ genetic diversity but also can be used as source material for habitat restoration.

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