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.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Willamette Daisy Management Experiment Update

Willamette daisy in bloom.
Once found throughout the prairies of the Willamette Valley, the Willamette daisy (Erigeron decumbens var. decumbens) is listed endangered on both state and federal levels. The Institute for Applied Ecology has partnered with United States Fish and Wildlife Service, United States Army Corps of Engineers, and the City of Eugene in an effort to test effective management techniques for the species. For more information regarding this and previous studies, please see our April 2011 and April 2013 blog postings.

In year three of the current study, as part of the Institute for Applied Ecology’s ongoing research regarding management and reintroduction strategies for the species, 1800 individuals were out-planted in mid-April, 2013. These plants were divided between four new research plots in Eugene and Corvallis prairies. Of the sites planted, two are additions to preexisting study sites, while the other two are entirely new to the study.

At each site, six treatments will be applied. In Corvallis the treatments consist of mowing, glyphosate application, burning plus glyphosate application, carbon additions (in the form of sugar), grass-specific herbicide, and a control. Eugene sites receive similar treatments, though grazing is used in lieu of glyphosate-only applications. The Corvallis sites recently underwent their burn cycle for 2013, and the Eugene sites have been mowed. The new out-planting sites are slated to receive grazing and glyphosate application this fall (when the Willamette daisies are senesced so as to not damage them) and carbon additions will be applied in spring of 2014. The 2011 plants are also scheduled to be re-treated accordingly at the same time.

Eugene sites being burned in 2012.

Though additional study is needed to determine long-term effects, initial results from 2011 out-plantings indicate that none of the treatments had significant effects on Willamette daisy survivorship or size. However, burning + glyphosate treatments at the Corvallis sites showed a significant increase in the fecundity. The Eugene sites were burned later, and though the data is in, it has not yet been analyzed.  These preliminary results suggest that Willamette daisy can tolerate a variety of prairie management techniques, though burning followed by glyphosate treatment appears to have a positive effect on their reproductive capacity. Because of the apparent tolerance to common prairie management techniques, it is recommended that management be tailored to the plant community in order to be most effective.

The greatest variances observed in the experiment were not between treatments, but rather between sites, which suggests that there is some variation in underlying site conditions that affect the daisy's growth. Though the site factors responsible for the variation are still unknown, the broad implication here is that higher quality initial habitat will yield a more healthy Willamette daisy population.

Large, remnant Willamette daisy individual at Atlantic-Pacific site in Eugene

We are looking forward to another year's data and getting a more in depth look at what drives the Willamette daisy.

For further reading:
Official report:
Willamette Daisy Demography and Management Report 2012
Previous blog postings:
April 2013 & April 2011

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wayside Aster Monitoring and Management Recomendations

Eucephalus vialis produces only disc flowers
This year the Conservation Research department at the Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE) received funding from the Eugene District Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to monitor and make management recommendations at select Eucephalus vialis populations. Eucephalus vialis, or wayside aster, is a perennial plant native to transitional habitats between forest and prairie in western Oregon. As such, light exposure and canopy density are important considerations for the conservation of Eucephalus vialis.

Our work with Eucephalus vialis this year has been to monitor sites where forest thinning has occurred. IAE research that took place between 2001 and 2010 indicated that thinning treatments (which increased light penetration) reduced mortality, increased plant size and increased the number of flowers per plant. Thinning also increased the abundance of native grasses, forbs and shrubs. There were slight increases in invasive plants specializing in edge habitats such as St. John's wort, blackberry and false-brome. Burning, as it was conducted in these plots in previous years, was found to have no significant effect as a restoration treatment on Eucephalus vialis.

Eucephalus vialis distribution in western Oregon
This year's monitoring has been a mixed bag of beautiful late summer weather, poison oak, and one intense thunderstorm. The edge loving nature of Eucephalus vialis means that many of our field sites were in very scenic forest edges and ridge lines, with one site located in old-growth Douglas-fir forest. Though we have not yet been able to analyze data this year, we have observed that sites that have been thinned have had lower mortality, greater recruitment of new plants, more flowers, and larger plants than un-thinned sites. Unfortunately poison oak shares habitat preferences with Eucephalus vialis and some of our crew has been suffering from the dreaded “oak”. We have completed the monitoring portion of the project and are looking forward to visiting additional field sites in order to make management recommendations for Eucephalus vialis sites.

A Eucephalus vialis plot in a grove of large Douglas fir.