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.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Getting LoCo in Joco


In our latest conservation research news, we recently took a trip to Josephine County to monitor Lomatium cookii, common name, Cook’s desert parsley. We had a wonderful group of 6 volunteers who worked very hard to help us complete all of the monitoring of this sensitive species that is endemic to a few areas in Josephine County. Thanks to all our volunteers for their hard work! Some days were hot, but we had a swimming hole on the Illinois River to jump into at the end of the day to cool us off!

Our work involved observing differences in population dynamics over time as well as accounting for growth of the species as a whole. At the Rough And Ready site we conducted a population census where our crew and volunteers counted over 2,000 plants! We are also grateful to the Siskiyou Field Institute for their accommodations, and a special visit from John Wayne himself who is known to frequent the ranch.

Denise, Emma, [John Wayne], Connor, Sara, and Ceci (from left)

We completed all our monitoring goals and had time to visit a nearby fen with a healthy population of Darlingtonia californica, or the California pitcher plant. It was a great tangent in the work week when we were all a little Lomatium-ed out!

LOCO flower 1.jpg
An healthy example of Lomatium cookii.

Stay tuned for future posts on Kincaid’s lupine monitoring and a trip to Willapa Bay!

Dream Team 2015

Greetings from Table Rocks

It’s been a crazy month filled with field work, lots of laughs, and a bit of poison oak (more on that in a blog to come)! Traveling back to a few weeks ago however we started our field season at Table Rocks. Table Rocks is a geological formation outside of Medford, OR, resulting from millions of years of geologic activity. The sedimentary rock that forms the Payne Cliff formation was deposited approximately 40 million years ago. The combined forces of erosion and uplift formed the Rogue valley and the Klamath mountains approximately 10 to 20 million years ago. Approximately 7 million years ago, lava flows flooded the ancestral Rogue River Valley and formed a hard cap over the Payne Cliff formation. Since then, the Rogue River has meandered through the Rogue Valley to erode most of the hard volcanic cap. The remnants are only a few monoliths including the Table Rocks formation.

Getting ready to find some Limnanthes!

The Rogue River Valley where the rocks are located has been an area of importance for Native Americans, specifically the Takelma people who inhabited the region approximately 15,000 years ago.  Not only were the rocks an area of spiritual importance, but they depended upon the various amount of natural resources around the area such as camas bulbs, acorns, willow shoots, and iris leaves just to name a few. Currently, Table Rock is a popular area for recreation and education after being dedicated as a nature preserve by the Nature Conservancy in 1979. It is also still an important cultural location for the Takelma people who conduct various tribal ceremonies at the site. Not only do the rocks provide an excellent backdrop for environmental education, a representation of the rich historical culture, and a great place to spend an afternoon, but they are also home to Limnanthes pumila ssp. pumila (dwarf woolly meadowfoam), a sensitive species, which is endemic to Table Rocks.  

Vernal pools on Table Rocks, pictured above, are prime habitat for Limnanthes pumila.

Conserving this species is integral to the Table Rock region because of its endemism to those two geologic formations, which also supports other endangered species such as the vernal pool fairy shrimp. Monitoring in recent years has shown a decrease in overall L. pumila presence. This may be due to an increase in non-native species such as Poa bulbosa (bulbous bluegrass) and Taeniatherum caput-medusae (medusahead), which often outcompete surrounding native species. Some of the decline in dwarf woolly meadowfoam may also be attributed to increased use of the area for recreation, which will be important to keep track of in future years in order to successfully conserve this endemic species. Our monitoring of L. pumila included collecting plant community data both along transects and in established plots. We assessed the percent cover of the meadowfoam as well as other plants occupying the plots. The conservation of this species will allow land managers to make informed decisions, enhance recreation opportunities, and preserve habitat for future ecological generations.

Keep posted for our next trip down to Josephine County in the serpentine soils!
Dream Team 2015

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Welcome 2015 IAE/NPSO Interns!

Here in the CR department we are starting to wake up from our winter hibernations, shake the dust off, and get to work preparing for our 2015 field season. We are excited to have Emma MacDonald back again for another season with us as our biological technician and crew leader. We are also eager to  welcome our new batch of NPSO interns in April: Sara Newman, Connor Whitaker, and Cecilia Welch.
Sara graduated from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado with a degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in Psychology. In 2014 Sara was a rangeland conservation intern with the Columbine Ranger District in Southwestern Colorado. Through this internship she created and implemented a revegetation plan for the Hermosa Creek watershed. Sara has also worked as a senior field guide for Open Sky Wilderness Therapy, a holistic wilderness therapy program out of Durango, CO.
Sarah Newman
Connor received a degree in Biology from  St. Mary’s College of Maryland. For his senior thesis project Connor studied the effects of deer grazing on native plant communities. During the summer of 2014 Connor worked as an invasive plant technician and research aide for the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory of Colorado. As such, he studied and mapped the spread of invasive species within the laboratory’s property as well as assisted with native species revegetation efforts.
Charles Connor Whitaker
 Cecilia comes to us with a degree in Biological Aspects of Conservation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Cecilia has held several biological research technician positions with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Montana State University, working on a variety of projects such as chemical ecology research, pollination studies, plant-soil relationships, and invasive grasses. In 2014 Cecilia worked with the Big Sky Watershed Corps of Montana as a member of the Americorps. Through this position she gained familiarity with many natural resource management issues and interagency collaboration within the Yellowstone and Shields River watersheds.
Cecilia Welch
Cecilia Welch
 And now here are a few thoughtful words of advice from this year’s crew lead, Emma, a former NPSO intern herself:
You guys are about to have an amazing summer! We get to work in some of the most beautiful and tucked away spots in Oregon with some really rare and neat plants. Some of the plants we work with are endemic to one county or even just a single ridgeline in the entire world. Through this internship you will also make a lot of great friends out of coworkers, supervisors, members of the community, and even our executive director and members of the board. These acquaintances will hopefully be lasting connections within the tight-knit community of ecological conservation within the Pacific Northwest. If this crew is any anything like last year’s, you’ll find yourself hanging out with your coworkers on the weekends and even after the field season ends.
That being said, field work isn’t for the feint of heart. Some days will be long, hot, and stressful to boot. But don’t worry, we know all the best swimming holes and snack stops along the way to keep our brains from hard boiling.
Here’s a couple tips I picked up (sometimes the hard way) from my experiences last year:
  • Always pack an extra fork
  • Embrace the farmer’s tan, there’s no way to avoid the inevitable
  • Just because you’ve never had it before, does not make you immune to poison oak
  • Don’t pick up hitchhikers in Cave Junction
  • When in doubt, pack extra
  • Take lots of pictures!