Progress 07/19/13 to 12/31/15
Target Audience:Target audiences included the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, restoration ecologists, landowners, The Nature Conservancy, the Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies, the Center for Natural Lands Management, the Pacific Rim Institute for Environmental Stewardship, researchers, educators, students, AmeriCorps members, volunteers, and the general public. Changes/Problems:At the Smith Prairie and Ebey's Landing site: Soil samples were collected from the sites in January 2014, but, due to the size of the sample being too small, samples could not be properly analyzed. Due to a miscommunication between the researchers and field staff, supplemental seeding of golden paintbrush did not occur. Golden paintbrush near but not within the experimental area at Smith Prairie was fenced to reduce deer herbivory. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?Three field technicians, with assistance from Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) staff, Pacific Rim Institute for Environmental Stewardship (PRI) interns, and volunteers, gained experience in vegetation monitoring and maintenance activities. Two large classes from the University of Washington, Bothell, attended Prairie Appreciation Day on May 10, 2014, and learned about our restoration efforts. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?Results were communicated with the general public, land managers, and scientists via active participation in Prairie Appreciation Day, the preparation of a non-technical 'lessons learned' document, and oral presentations. We have a high certainty that the benefits of this project have been realized, and that they will have long-term positive consequences for prairie restoration because they contribute to the information base necessary to properly manage this ecosystem to recover golden paintbrush and other listed species. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?
What was accomplished under these goals?
1. Adaptively Maintain and Enhance Restored Habitats Activities to maintain and enhance restored habitats occurred at all three sites in 2013 and 2014. The following actions occurred at Glacial Heritage: Fire crews burned a 100x plot at Glacial Heritage on 9/20/2013. Due to the late season application, heavy rains prior to the burn, and low fuel loading in this site, fire intensity and the resulting severity was very low. Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) staff maintained aisles within the experimental arrays at Glacial Heritage by spraying glyphosate in October 2013 and twice (March, July) in 2014. The entire site was also sprayed with Fusilade to limit non-native grass invasion in March 2014. Herbicide application dates were determined by weather and cover of non-native species present in the aisles. The aisles between the golden paintbrush plantings (i.e., the companion planting experiment) were maintained by rototilling multiple times throughout the year (September, April, July). Golden paintbrush seed was collected from the plots during Fall 2013, cleaned, and distributed back into the site and across several other South Sound sites in late Fall 2013. This work was funded through a separate award from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition, an experimental planting was installed in an area that had received adequate site preparation but was not previously seeded. Golden paintbrush plugs were outplanted alone or with one of the following species: Achillea millefolium, Danthonia californica, Deschampsia caespitosa, Eriophyllum lanatum, Erigeron speciosus, Festuca roemeri, Lupinus lepidus, Lupinus littoralis, Plantago lanceolata, Rosa nutkana, Solidago canadensis, Symphoricarpos albus. Twenty replicates of each combination were planted. However, a severe cold snap soon after planting killed the vast majority of these plants so no monitoring occurred in this area. The following actions occurred at Smith Prairie and Ebey's Landing: Glyphosate (Glypho-star) applications were performed on four occasions to maintain aisles between plots. In 2013, treatments occurred during the last week of June and the first week of September. The September treatment was more of a spot spray as relatively few weeds had germinated since the June treatment. In 2014, an early spring application was performed on April 2 at PRI and April 11 at Ebey's landing, and a late spring application on June 24 (PRI) and 25 (Ebey's Landing). An average of 35-37 gallons of herbicide was used to treat the aisles for each site on each date. Maintaining aisles was considerably more difficult at Ebey's Landing as plants such as Canada thistle, bull thistle, and field mustards were quick to re-populate the barren aisles. Milestone was applied to thistles coming up within plots. Application occurred on June 30 and July 1, 2014. Photo documentation occurred on three occasions throughout the year to help principal researchers assess the conditions and status of the plots. Photographs of plots at both Ebey's Landing and Smith Prairie sites were taken to document how sites are doing over time and to help with management assessment. Pictures were taken in October 2013, April 2014, and late June 2014 to show the relative status of areas when vegetative growth was occurring in aisles and plots. In October 2013, we pulled field mustard and other problematic species that had been missed or arose after initial two sprays at both sites. It should be noted that a considerable crop of new weeds germinated afterwards in response to the wet and warm weather that autumn. Lupinus arboreus was removed in late June as it had been identified as an unintentionally introduced species. 2. Monitor Vegetation Vegetation monitoring occurred in Spring 2014 and was led by three field technicians, with assistance from CNLM staff, Pacific Rim Institute for Environmental Stewardship (PRI) interns, and volunteers. Monitoring followed established monitoring protocols developed during the 'Prairie Habitat Restoration' project and by the golden paintbrush recovery team. This work was funded partially through this award and partially from other sources. Monitoring occurred in 1,396 permanently marked 1 x 1 m quadrats distributed throughout the experimental arrays and scaled-up areas at each site. On a subset of the quadrats (one per plot in experimental arrays, one per six quadrats in scaled-up areas), we conducted photo monitoring and estimated the cover of various substrates. These images, when combined with those from previous years, illustrate the changes that are occurring over time, particularly with regard to flowering species. In all quadrats, we identified each vascular plant species present and estimated their cover using standard cover classes. This monitoring has been conducted annually since the plots were established, enabling comparisons of how plant communities have changed for up to 6 years. For example, species richness has generally increased at Glacial Heritage but decreased at North Sound sites. Site preparation has had a long-term effect on total cover in some sites and seeding years. At Glacial Heritage, for example, total cover is greater in Solarize plots than in plots that received the Burn or Herbicide treatments. Additional work will examine the dynamics of the seeded species specifically, and will evaluate the effects of post-seeding management activities such as prescribed burns and herbicide application. During our monitoring, we focused specific attention on golden paintbrush. In each quadrat, we mapped and counted each individual plant, tallied the number of flowering stems on each plant, and noted the prevalence of herbivory of flowering stems. Key items to note: The number of plants at each site is well above the minimum required for a recovery population The population at Glacial Heritage is incredibly large due primarily to the fact that it includes the 100x scaled-up areas, which total 1.4 ha and are the largest contiguous area in which golden paintbrush has been seeded to date (Arnett 2014). Establishment varied among years. For example, establishment was much higher in the 2010 than 2011 array at both North Sound sites. On average, 58% of the observed golden paintbrush plants flowered in 2014. However, this proportion was much higher at Ebey's Landing than at the other sites. The average flowering golden paintbrush plant had 5 flowering stems, 39% of which were browsed. Plants in the North Sound had about twice as many flowering stems as those at Glacial Heritage. However, these sites also had higher herbivory rates, which may have stimulated the production of additional stems. In addition, we noted the occurrence of plants in the plots at Glacial Heritage that appeared to be hybrids between golden paintbrush and harsh paintbrush (Castilleja hispida). It was unclear whether these hybrids were viable or the degree to which they might hinder the recovery of golden paintbrush. In Autumn 2014, we collected seed capsules from a number of these plants and assessed seed production and viability. Hybrid plants produced smaller capsules with less than half as many seeds per capsule as in golden paintbrush, though the seeds themselves were larger. On average, 77% of the seeds germinated. Genetic analyses are underway to determine the hybridization history of these plants (Fisher et al. 2015).
Conference Papers and Presentations
Oral presentation at the 5th World Conference on Ecological Restoration, Madison, WI (October 2013)
Conference Papers and Presentations
Oral presentation at the Ecological Society of America conference, Minneapolis, MN (August 2013)