2004 Janet Meakin Poor Research Symposium

Celebrating 10 Years of the Plant Conservation Alliance:
Conservation and Restoration of Plant Communities

Abstracts -- Invited Presenters


The power of collaborative conservation. Ken Berg, Manager, Western Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 510 Desmond Drive SE, Suite 102, Lacey, WA 98503, (360) 753-4065.

Native plants form diverse communities and contribute to ecosystems that support our economic prosperity and quality of life. The Plant Conservation Alliance was formed to focus the power of collaborative conservation on native plants and plant communities. Over the last ten years, more than 200 federal, state and local agencies, and private partners, have harnessed this power to advance plant conservation, native plant community restoration, ex situ species conservation, medicinal plant conservation, alien plant prevention and control, and public outreach. Celebrate these successes and refocus our vision for the next decade.

Addressing invasive species issues by building effective partnerships. Sarah Reichard, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Washington, Center for Urban Horticulture, Box 354115, Seattle, WA 98195. (206) 616-5020.

Like most conservation issues, solutions to invasive species problems must integrate natural science with social values. Because a majority of invasive species have been introduced intentionally, especially for horticultural use, it is important to understand and cooperatively address the concerns of those that import, sell and design with plants. By forming partnerships, we identify the barriers to change. Those barriers may be based on conflicting priorities and values, but they may also be barriers of technology. Natural scientists have a role to play in assisting horticulturists in evaluating the threats of new and existing species and in developing alternatives.

Does inter-regional floristic relatedness foster plant invasion?: Exchanges between eastern Asia and North America. Richard N. Mack, Ph.D., Professor, School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164. (509) 335-3316.

For more than 200 years, plant exchanges between eastern Asia and North America have provided the basis for an inadvertent experiment on the fate of Asian and North American species in their new ranges. Much interest focuses on those species in a new range that have or will become invasive. A fascinating subheading within this experiment recognizes the strong phylogenetic links between the temperate floras in these regions. The occurrence of congeners is particularly striking, because many Asian and North American congeners appear to play similar roles in their native ranges. This potential ecological congruence begs the question as to whether such congeners are in effect functionally interchangeable between the ranges. We may witness the answer(s) to this question as trade in horticultural species accelerates. Thus, this inadvertent experiment in plant naturalization and invasion holds major implications for the conservation of biodiversity and the protection of the environments in each region.

Medicinal Plant Working Group -- to infinity, and beyond! Patricia S. De Angelis, Ph.D., Botanist and Medicinal Plant Working Group Chair, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 750, Arlington, VA 22203. (703) 358-1753.

The Plant Conservation Alliance-Medicinal Plant Working Group (PCA-MPWG) was formed in 1999 to establish a multi-stakeholder forum for discussing and addressing the sustainable use and conservation of medicinal plants. Today, MPWG has more than 270 members, domestic and international, with medicinal plant enthusiasts from academia, government, grower and trade associations, industry, tribes and other traditional knowledge holders. MPWG has six committees: Conservation, Elder Circle, Ethnobotany, Finance, Industry, and Sustainable Production Committees. Highlights of MPWG's first five years as well as thoughts for our future will be discussed.

Seeds of Success: Innovative partnerships collecting native seed for restoration and conservation. Michael J. Way* and Roger D. Smith*, Carol Spurrier**. *Seed Conservation Dept., Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Wakehurst Place, Ardingly, West Sussex RH17 6TN, United Kingdom. (01444) 894106. **Bureau of Land Management, 1849 C Street, Washington, DC 20240.

The availability of native plant materials, and in particular appropriate supplies of seed, can be a significant constraint on ecological restoration projects. A number of Plant Conservation Alliance cooperators have therefore joined forces to mount an unprecedented seed collecting program in the United States. Foremost are the Bureau of Land Management, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the Chicago Botanic Garden that quickly embraced a unique partnership opportunity provided through the global Millennium Seed Bank Project of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Through a robust collecting protocol and tailored training courses, the Seeds of Success collecting program and encouraged diverse participation ranging from university students to Federal agency botanists to native plant society volunteers. The collectors' efforts are coordinated through an innovative targeting web site run by the Plant Conservation Alliance. Given that seed banking technology is proving to be an effective means to keep seeds of most native US plant species viable for decades, the collections are studied and conserved at US and UK seed banks. As a result, high quality collections of native see with associated herbarium vouchers and field data will soon be available to provide nucleus stocks to the restoration community. Associated research in the UK and US will help Seeds of Success partners understand the role these collections could play in the restoration degraded environments.

How long is long-term? Results from 40 years of storing seeds at USDA's genebank. Christina Walters, Ph.D., Research Leader, USDA-ARS National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, 1111 S. Mason Street, Fort Collins, CO 80521. (970) 495-3202.

Seed genebanking is commonly used as an ex situ conservation strategy for plants. The time that seeds remain viable under genebanking conditions is critical to the success of this strategy, but there is very little information that describes seed longevity for different species under different see storage environments. In this paper, germination data collected over 40 years in USDA's genebank will be presented to show performance of different species and results from cryogenic storage.
This information should be used to develop genebanking strategies that cater to the intended used of germplasm and are also cost-effective.

Ten years into the future: Restoring plant diversity and ecosystems. Don Falk, Ph.D., Research Associate, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, 105 W. Stadium, Tucson, AZ 85721. (520) 626-7201.

The Plant Conservation Alliance (PCA) represents one of the most ambitious attempts ever undertaken in the United Stated to protect and restore native plant species. Using a wide range of methods, PCA has contributed substantially to preventing extinction of threatened species. The question for PCA, and for plant conservation more generally, is how to integrate such efforts with protection and restoration of whole communities and ecosystems. The practice of ecological restoration and the parallel science of restoration ecology offer tools and a conceptual framework that can ensure that PCA's work will achieve permanence.

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Support for this conference was provided by the following sources: The Janet Meaking Poor Research Symposium Endowment Fund of the Chicago Botanic Garden, Lincolnshire Garden Club, USDA Forest Service/Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie