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, May 26, 2011

Population Viability Analysis for Cypripedium fasciculatum

Common Name: Clustered lady's slipper

Scientific Name: Cypripedium fasciculatum Kellogg ex S. Watson; also Cypripedium knightiae A. Nelson

Special Listing Status: Cypripedium fasciculatum is listed as a bureau sensitive species within Oregon and California by the Bureau of Land Management.  Within the USDA Forest Service regions five and six it is listed as a sensitive species and was formerly a survey and manage species under the Northwest Forest Plan.  It is also a candidate for listing by the state of Oregon.

Distribution: This rare orchid is found in isolated populations from north central Washington south through Oregon to central California and extends east to the Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah mountains.  In Oregon, the species occurs most frequently in the Klamath Mountains in the southwest corner of the state.

Project Description: We relocated and then documented and described previous sightings of Cypripedium fasciculatum located throughout the Medford District BLM and the Siskiyou National Forest lands.  These areas were last surveyed between 1 to 29 years ago and therefore varied in the information available to relocate the populations. This ongoing project began in 2008 while the data for the population viability analysis includes information from monitoring plots established between 1996 and 1998 and monitored through 2007 as well as a selection of populations from the Sierra Nevada bioregion taken from the Carothers (2003) database.  The intent of this monitoring is to determine the likelihood of persistence of populations.  For example, previous analyses found that  of 180 populations, 59% had declined in size, and 33% went extinct.  Small populations (fewer than 10 plants) had a 50% chance of going extinct.

Identification Tips: Cypripedium fasciculatum is a small orchid measuring less than 18cm from the base to the apex while the the span of the two sessile, opposite, elliptical leaves can be up to 30cm.  The surest identification trait to distinguish C. fasciculatum from similar looking species is the puberulent stem.  There is usually a singular miniature bract between the leaves and the flowers which are found in drooping clusters of 2 to 10.  The flowers themselves are relatively small for orchid flowers, only reaching 4.5cm from tip to tip, and range in color from brown markings on a green or golden background to predominantly reddish-brown.   

Interesting Facts: Additional research is needed to determine the habitat requirements of C. fasciculatum however it has been hypothesized that mid to late-successional forest communities may be favored due to the presence of fungal symbionts.  Therefore characteristics of the upper organic soil layer such as soil development, soil depth, rate of decomposition of organic matter, moisture content and pH which affect mycorrhizal fungi may control the distribution of this orchid.  Also, this species is capable of dormancy which may explain the inability to relocate small populations due to synchronous dormancy.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lupinus oreganus: Population Monitoring, Reintroduction Success and Evaluation of Experimental Treatments

Lupinus oreganus inflorescences
Scientific Name: Lupinus oreganus A. Heller; formerly known as Lupinus sulphureus Douglas ex Hook. var. kincaidii (C.P. Sm.) C.L. Hitchc.

Species Listing Status:  The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have listed Lupinus oreganus as a threatened species.  However, the majority of sites where it is known to occur are on private lands, which are exempt from state and federal protections.  

Distribution: Lupinus oreganus is found in native prairie remnants and oak woodlands of the Willamette Valley as well as southwestern Washington and Douglas County, Oregon.
Project Description: IAE devotes a significant portion of the field research season to monitoring Lupinus oreganus throughout its range in Oregon.  This year, we monitored several sites within the West Eugene Wetlands, and the Eugene and Roseburg BLM Districts.  The species is threatened by shrub encroachment, exotic invasive plants and ORV use.  The sites are currently under various management treatments including: mowing, burning, solarization, weed removal and tree removal.  Our research involves measuring the total ground cover and counting the number of racemes on the plants.  This information will be used to determine the best management treatment or combination of treatments to support these populations.  

Vegetative Lupinus oreganus
Identification tips: Lupinus oreganus can be distinguished from other co-occurring lupine species through the combination of several features. It has palmately compound leaves with several leaflets which are glabrous on the upper surface.  Flowering from April through June, the unbranched inflorescence has numerous purplish flowers which occur in a raceme.  Secondarily, the pungent, sulfurous smell of this species can be used as a distinguishing characteristic.

Interesting FactsLupinus oreganus is an obligate larval host for the Fender's blue butterfly (Icaricia icarioides fenderi), a federally listed endangered animal.  The Fender's blue butterfly oviposits small, white eggs on the undersides of L. oreganus leaves.  Once the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the leaves and overwinter in the soil at the base of the plants.   

The full reports are available for each location where we monitored for Lupinus oreganus var. kincaidiiand can be found at

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Threat Assessment for Limnanthes floccosa ssp. pumila

Common Name: dwarf woolly meadowfoam
Scientific Name: Limnanthes floccosa ssp. pumila (Howell) Arroyo

Species Listing StatusLimnanthes floccosa ssp. pumila is listed as Threatened by the State of Oregon and is considered a Species of Concern by the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Distribution: The only two known populations of Limnanthes floccosa ssp. pumila are located on Upper and Lower Table Rocks in Jackson County, Oregon.  The habitat here is an impermeable volcanic plateau with mounds, flats and vernal pools.  The L. floccosa ssp. pumila populations are concentrated in the vernal pools and seasonally wet depressions.  Upper and Lower Table Rocks are owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), respectively.  This land is protected as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) on BLM land and as a preserve on TNC lands.   

Project Description:  Major threats to L. floccosa ssp. pumila include exotic weeds and recreational use of the Rocks.  Before acquisition by the TNC, Lower Table Rock had been used for cattle grazing.  Over the course of several years, IAE has collected data to determine population trends and the effects of these threats on the population.  Our research involved monitoring previously set up plots under different experimental parameters of trampling, grass removal and grazing exclosure.  We also obtained information about disturbance and native and non-native species abundance in the plant community through monitoring transect lines laid out across the plateaus.

Identification Tips:  Limnanthes floccosa ssp. pumila is a low lying annual flower reaching heights of five to ten centimeters.  When in bloom from March until May, it can be distinguished by its five white petals that have prominent venation and five green sepals that alternate with the petals.  The leaves are pinnately divided and, unlike the other two subspecies which occur around Upper and Lower Table Rocks, the leaves and sepals are hairless.  Susan K. MacKinnon's book, Flowers of the Table Rocks, was a helpful, comprehensive guide to the flora of this ecosystem.   

Interesting Facts: Limnanthes floccosa ssp. pumila is geographically isolated and only grows on the Table Rocks in Oregon, an area of only about seven and a half square miles!  Also, it is related to the cultivated species Limnanthes alba (white meadowfoam) which is used to make meadowfoam seed oil, a highly stable vegetable oil.

For more information follow the link to the full report: Threat Assessment for Limnanthes floccosa ssp. pumila and Callitriche marginata on Table Rocks ACEC, Medford District BLM.

Rare specimen of L. floccosa ssp. pumila with multiple petal whorls.

Population Monitoring for Lomatium cookii

Lomatium cookii inflorescence
Common Name: Cook's desertparsley or Agate desertparsley

Scientific Name: Lomatium cookii J. S. Kagan

Species Listing Status: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of Oregon have listed Lomatium cookii as an endangered species. 

Distribution: Lomatium cookii is a southwestern Oregon endemic found in margins and bottoms of vernal pools and in moist, grassy meadows. It is found only in the Illinois Valley in Josephine County and Agate Desert in Jackson County. 

Project Description: Monitoring of Lomatium cookii was initiated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the early 90's and has continued annually.  Our work included monitoring density and demography plots to assist with BLM recovery efforts. Based on demographic data collected from 1994 through 2010, a Population Viability Analysis was developed to guide future land management decisions with L. cookii in mind.  Ongoing threats to this species include rural development, damage through recreational use and mining activities.   

Identification Tips: Lomatium cookii is a small perennial that rarely exceeds thirty centimeters in height and is quite inconspicuous unless in flower.  The leaves are ternately divided into many narrow leaflets and have a feathery appearance.  The creamy yellow inflorescence blooms from mid-March through May and is displayed in a compound umbel on a leafless stem. 

Interesting Facts: Lomatium cookii can produce several flowering stems per plant. The first umbel's flowers are mostly staminate (male) and subsequent umbels will produce both male and hermaphroditic flowers.  The hermaphrodites are only found on the outer edges of umbellets. This reproductive strategy is a protective measure to prevent inbreeding.    

For the full report on our work with Lomatium cookii visit:
Lomatium cookii Population Monitoring in the Illinois Valley, Josephine County, Oregon