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.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Finding Fritillary

Fritillaria gentneri (Gentner's fritillary)
Photo credit: Scott Orr
The 2014 field season kicked-off last week with a trip down to Grants Pass, OR. Our mission was to monitor an endangered population of Fritillaria gentneri (Gentner’s fritillary). F. gentneri is endemic to a small portion of Southern Oregon and Northern California with the largest number of individuals occurring in Jackson County, OR. The Institute for Applied Ecology began their study of this Southern Oregon population in 2002. By gathering a demographic baseline for F. gentneri, we can assist in long-term efforts to examine this sub-population’s response to climate and habitat change. This particular area near Grants Pass has even been nominated as an ACEC (Area of Critical Environmental Concern) by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) due to the large F. gentneri population and the long-term data set that can inform management decisions.

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Hiking down to our study site, Pictured from left: Tara Callaway, Amy Comstock and Bryan Wender
Photo credit: Emma MacDonald
As we pulled up to our first site and stepped out of Keith (our lovingly named work van), we noticed two things: steep, rocky slopes and Toxicodendron diversilobum (poison oak). We quickly suited up in protective gear, loaded up our packs, and began our scramble upward in search of the rare crimson flower. Our study site was located on a south-facing slope, just north of Picket Creek, where one of the largest known F. gentneri sub-populations remains. Although the dark crimson color of its bell shaped flower is a distinguishing feature, it can be quite difficult to tell apart from its close relatives, F. affinis and F. recurva, and difficult to spot on the hillside. Additionally, the majority of individuals never produce a flowering stalk and remain in the vegetative state as inconspicuous single leaves, rarely growing wider than 4 centimeters. Vegetative F. gentneri commonly propagate asexually via offset bulb growth, resulting in low genetic diversity within small sub-populations.   
Laying out density transects, Pictured: Emma MacDonald
Photo credit: Scott Orr
Although our focus was on the Gentner's fritillary, it’s impossible not to notice all of the other blossoming flowers and wildlife in the area. The fragrant smell of the blooming madrones and coyote mint overwhelmed our noses in the hot sun, and we were often side-tracked by the beautiful wildflowers such as Calochortus tolmiei (Tolmie star-tulip), Iris bracteata (wild iris), Erythronium oregonum (fawn lily), Delphinium menziesii (purple larkspur), Cynoglossum grande (Pacific hound’s tongue), Lomatium utriculatum (common lomatium), and Collinsia parviflora (blue-eyed Mary). 

Delphinium menziesii (purple larkspur)
Photo credit: Emma MacDonald
With the ornithological expertise of Amy Comstock, one of our seasonal interns, we were able to identify several songbirds such as Vermivora celata (orange-crowned warbler), Oporornis tolmiei (Macgillvray’s warbler), and Regulus calendula (ruby-crowned kinglet).

Despite copious amounts of Poison oak, 45+ degree slopes, and the blazing sun, we had a wonderful time!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Meet the 2014 IAE/NPSO interns!

The 2014 field season is gearing up and the IAE Conservation Research crew will be back on the road to conduct annual monitoring and research on plant species and ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest.  Projects scheduled for this year include monitoring and researching management techniques for the Cook’s desert parsley, surveying for Cusick’s lupine in eastern Oregon, out-planting native species at Horse Rock Ridge, creating propagation protocols for bartonberry, and monitoring populations of Kincaid’s lupine throughout its range.  Keep an eye out for new blog posts about these projects (and many more!) from this year’s NPSO interns, Emma MacDonald and Amy Comstock.
Emma MacDonald
Emma received her B.S. in Environmental Science and Management as well as a minor in Biology from Portland State University in June of 2013.  During the summer of 2013, she worked as a back-country ranger with the Olympic National Park on the Washington Peninsula. Through the fall and winter for 2013-14, she lived in Seattle, and volunteered with the Sarvey Wildlife Care Center as a clinic assistant and animal caretaker. Emma’s academic interests include wildlife conservation and zoology as well as habitat restoration and management. Emma is working with the IAE to gain professional experience in conservation research and would like to gain a wide variety of hands-on experiences working in the field and lab before pursuing a higher degree.

Amy Comstock
 Amy received her Bachelors of Zoology from Oregon State University in 2009. Since then she has done a variety of field jobs including Hawksbill sea turtle conservation in Hawaii, songbird surveys in the Coast Range and the Sierras, and habitat restoration on Fern Ridge Reservoir. She is currently working on setting up a graduate project at Oregon State in order to obtain her Master’s Degree in Fisheries and Wildlife. She is originally from Indiana, but her love of the outdoors has compelled her to stay in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.  

In addition, this is the fifth year that we will be participating in the Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering program through Saturday Academy, and our team will welcome a high-school student intern in June.  We are looking forward to an exciting field season!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


View from Lower Table Rocks, Pictured from left: Erin Gray, Scott Orr and Denise Giles-Johnson
Photo credit: Tara Callaway
It’s that time of year again! Field season has kicked off for the Conservation Research program at the Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE). This year, our season began at Lower Table Rocks located in southern Oregon near Medford. Warm temperatures, bright blue skies and a plethora of wildflowers welcomed us on all three days.
View of Lower Table Rocks from trail
Photo credit: Denise Giles-Johnson
Since 2006, IAE in partnership with the Medford District BLM has been monitoring the population trends and effects of grazing and recreation on the State Threatened, Federal Species of Concern, Limnanthes pumila ssp. pumila (dwarf wooly meadowfoam). 
 Limnanthes pumila ssp. pumila Photo credit: Erin Gray
Permanent plots were distributed in high-and low-traffic areas and in caged and non-caged pairs to study the population trend of Limnanthes pumila ssp. pumila and to determine the factor, if any, which may be affecting the population.
Permanent caged plot Photo credit: Erin Gray
Recently in 2013, five transects were added to Lower Table Rocks to monitor the effects of an emergency fire retardant drop that occurred in July 2010 on plant communities.

Collecting transect data, Pictured from left: Erin Gray and Tara Callaway
Photo credit: Scott Orr
For a more in-depth description about the Table Rocks monitoring project, please read the July 22nd, 2013 post “Conservation Research in Areas of Critical Environmental Concern” or the 2013 report

Additionally, a short wildflower list has been compiled (attached below) and details the species seen on and around Lower Table Rocks (3/31/14-4/2/14).

Native Plant Species
Amsinckia menziesii var. intermedia (common fiddleneck)
Collinsia grandiflora
Arbutus menziesii (Pacific madrone)
Berberis aquifolium (Oregon grape)
Callitriche marginata (winged water starwort)
Callitriche trochlearis (water starwort)
Calochortus tolmiei (Oregon mariposa lily)
Camassia leichtlinii (great camas)
Camassia quamash (common camas)
Cardamine nuttallii (Nuttall’s toothwort)
Collinsia grandiflora (Chinese pagoda)
Collinsia sparsiflora (spinster’s blue-eyed Mary)
Crepis occidentalis (Western hawksbeard)
Crepis pulchra (small-flowered hawksbeard)
Lupinus bicolor
Cynoglossum grande (Hound’s tongue)
Daucus carota (wild carrot)
Daucus pusillus (American wild carrot)
Delphinium nuttallianum (larkspur)
Dicentra formosa (bleeding heart)
Dodecatheon hendersonii (shooting star)
Erythronium hendersonii (fawn lily)
Fritillaria recurva (scarlet fritillary)
Geranium molle (dove-foot geranium)
Idahoa scapigera (speckled pod)
Lasthenia californica (California goldfields)
Limnanthes pumila ssp. pumila (dwarf wooly meadowfoam)
Saxifraga integrifolia
Lomatium californicum (California lomatium)
Lomatium dissectum (lace-leafed lomatium)
Lomatium utriculatum (desert parsley)
Lupinus bicolor (dwarf lupine)
Myosurus minimus (mouse-tail)
Osmorhiza berteroi (sweet cicely)
Osmorhiza occidentalis (mountain sweet cicely)
Plabiobothrys spp. (popcorn flower species)
Plectritis congesta (sea blush)
Saxifraga integrifolia (wholeleaf saxifrage)
Sisyrinchium bellum (blue-eyed grass)
Sisyrinchium douglasii (grass widow)
Thysanocarpus curvipes (lacepod)
Thysanocarpus radians (large fringepod)
Trifolium depauperatum (cow’s udders)
Zigadenus venenosus (death camas)

Exotic Plant Species
Geranium molle (dove-foot geranium)
Hypochaeris glabra (smooth cat’s ear)

Invasive grasses are increasingly becoming a huge problem at Table Rocks. Here’s a list of the most alarming species:
Poa bulbosa (Bulbous bluegrass)
Schedonorus phoenix (Tall fescue)
Taeniatherum caput-medusae (Medusahead)

*Native and exotic species were classified according to the Flowers of Table Rocks published in 2007 written by Susan K. MacKinnon.