The Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to conserve native species and habitats through restoration, research, and education. Here, we describe some of our projects working with the Conservation Research Program at IAE. The Conservation Research Program conducts research and montioring of native species and ecosystems in order to determine population trends and effective methods for restoration and management, conducts research on invasive species in order to determine effective control methods, and develops plans for the management and restoration of native ecosystems.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Population Monitoring of Fritillaria gentneri

Common Name: Gentner's fritillary

Scientific Name: Fritillaria gentneri Gilkey

Species Listing Status: Both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state of Oregon have listed Fritillaria gentneri as an endangered species.

Distribution:Gentner's fritillary is endemic to southwestern Oregon and northern California, specifically Jackson and Josephine Counties in Oregon and Siskiyou County in California.  Most populations have fewer than 100 individuals.  This species's habitat is open oak woodlands and chapparral shrub communities along the lower slopes of the Rogue Valley basin.

Project Description: We conducted an annual population count of Gentner's fritillary at Pickett Creek, in Josephine county. We used two methods to gauge the population:

1. A complete census of all flowering plants in the study area
2. Annual density sampling of randomly established three meter by twenty meter plots.

This ongoing population monitoring study began in 2002. Survival rates for seedlings of Gentner's Fritallary tend to be low (as with many plants). For the duration of the study the majority of the plants have been vegetative while less than 3% produce flowers in a given year. The data collected at Pickett Creek will help to determine the factors which contribute to the fluctuations in population size, and also will help guide future management decisions for Gentner's Frittillary.

Gentner's Fritillary in bloom. Photo: Alex Wick
Gentner's Fritillary plants of different ages and sizes. Photo: IAE
Identification Tips: Gentner's fritillary is characterized by a single, heart-shaped, lily-like leaf with a redstem. When in flower, it is unmistakable as a Fritillaria, with a 30 centimeter or larger, reddish-brown stalk with a whorl of pointed reddish leaves about halfway up. The flowers are spectacular, bell-shaped, dark blood-red, with yellow speckling inside. This species commonly co-occurs with the similar Fritillaria recurva, but can be distinguished by the lack of flared, or "recurved" petals.

Interesting Facts: Gentner's fritillary was originally a hybrid species, the progeny of a cross between Fritillaria recurva and Fritillaria affinis. Each population of Gentner's fritillary seems to be the result of an independent crossing event. Most populations are sterile, persisting via vegetative propagation; however, when pollen from distant populations is used to fertilize another, viable seeds can be produced.

For more detailed information about our work with this species, visit:  Fritillaria gentneri population monitoring study

Gentner's Frittilary bloom (center), flanked by both of its parent species,
 F. affinis (left), and F. recurva (right)
Photo: IAE

Friday, April 15, 2011

Outplanting Willamette Daisy

Willamette daisy in flower photo: Burl Martin 2008
Common Name: Willamette daisy or Willamette fleabane
Scientific Name: Erigeron decumbens

Species Listing Staus: Erigeron decumbens is listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) as an endangered species. It is also considered a Special Status Species by the Bureau of Land Managment (BLM).

Distribution: This endemic species is native to prairies in Oregon's Willamette Valley.  Today, the number of extant populations is numbered at about 40. Approximately half of these populations are protected on public lands.
Willamette daisy seedlings waiting to be planted
Identification Tips:  The Willamette daisy is a rosette forming perennial forb.  It can be distinguished from similar species by the three prominent parallel veins which run the length of the leaf.

Interesting Facts: The name, decumbens, was originally designated by the famous botanist explorer, Thomas Nuttall, because the comparatively large flowers' weight pulls its stem toward the ground, making them "decumbent".

Project Description: We outplanted over 1500 Willamette daisy at the William Finley National Wildlife Reserve and Fern Ridge Reservoir in West Eugene.  The objectives of this project are,

1. To evaluate different treatments, such as burning, grazing, mowing, and grass herbicide effects on Willamette daisy populations, and
2. Enhance our understanding of Willamette daisy population demography.

The Willamette daisy is in decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation. One of the effects of this has been low seed viability due to inbreeding depression in small populations. For more information, see the Willamette daisy 2006 Study at

Project Partners:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, including Finley National Wildlife Refuge
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fernridge Natural Area
U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Services, Plant Materials Center

Alex, Autumn, and Geoff Gardner

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Salt Marsh Bird's Beak

Common name:  Point Reyes bird's beak
Purple (center) and green (right) color variants


Scientific name:  Cordylanthus maritimus ssp. palustris

Listing:  USFWS Species of Concern, Endangered by the state of Oregon, endangered or threatened throughout its range (list 1) by the Oregon Biological Information Center, and a Bureau Sensitive Species with the Bureau of Land Management.
Distribution:  Along the Pacific Coast of North American from Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo County, California, north to Netarts Spit, Tillamook County, Oregon.  There are 18 known sites in Oregon, primarily the Coos Bay area, Yaquina Bay, and Netarts Spit.
What's cool about this plant:  Point Reyes bird's beak is a hemiparasite, meaning that although it is photosynthetic, it obtains much of it's mineral nutrition by parasitizing neighboring plant species.

Project description:  We are working with the Coos Bay BLM to
  1. Track changes in population size and location through time, and
  2. Test the effect of interspecific competition on recruitment. 
In 2010, we mapped the population, established permanent monitoring plots, and initiated field competition trials.  We will revisit the site in August 2011 to determine second year population trends and the effects of our experiment.

Follow this link to read the 2010 project report.

Ian Finn, Geoff Gardner, and Andrea Thorpe