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Abstract Detail

Conservation Biology

Bailey, Lydia [1], Antoninka, Anita [2], Bowker, Matthew [3].

Advances in cultivating the endangered Las Vegas Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica).

The Las Vegas Bearopoppy, Arctomecon californica, (ARCA), is an endemic, gypsophilic perennial forb which is listed as endangered by the state of Nevada. ARCA has proven challenging to salvage or cultivate and is threatened in its range of the Las Vegas Valley by urban development and mining. Finding a successful method to cultivate ARCA could be key in reestablishing populations after disturbance. Current protocols have used sterile media and complex procedures, but have only succeeded in some seeds breaking dormancy without seedling establishment. We hypothesize that the soil organisms and biocrust that ARCA interact with in nature might be the key to germination success. We tested the germination rates of ARCA seeds in the presence or absence of biological soil crusts (biocrusts: the community of lichens, mosses, cyanobacteria and algae which grow on the soil surface in arid landscapes) as well as live soil from the rhizosphere of mature ARCA. We mimicked the established protocol except for the use of live soil and biocrusts. We manipulated three factors: presence/absence of live soil, live/dead/absence of biocrusts, and seeds above/below the biocrust for a total of 12 treatments, each replicated 8 times. Units were placed in a growth chamber and exposed to cycles of warm/cold and light/dark, per the established protocol. After three months, we have germination in 10 units. While live soil and seed placement do not seem to influence germination, the presence of live or dead biocrust does; 6 units contained dead crust, 1 contained live crust, and 3 contained no crust. The germinates from the no biocrust treatments have yet to develop to seedlings, whereas all the germinates in biocrust treatments have reached seedling stage. We have cultivated 9 additional seedlings through a separate method. For use in another experiment, we placed several grams of seed in thin, water permeable pouches between live soil and salvaged crusts within a perforated plastic bin, and buried it at soil surface level at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve. The bin was buried in October 2018 and unearthed in March 2019. Upon opening the pouches, we found many germinating seeds which we planted into small pots in the growth chamber. We will attempt to mimic the conditions which the bin of seeds was exposed to in future, more controlled germination trials to refine our methods. These efforts have produced among the first successfully cultivated ARCA seedlings to date.

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1 - Northern Arizona University, School of Forestry, 200 E Pine Knoll Dr, Flagstaff, AZ, 86011, USA
2 - Northern Arizona University, 200 E Pine Knoll Dr, Flagstaff, AZ, 86011, United States
3 - Northern Arizona University, School of Forestry, 200 E. Pine Knoll, Box 15018, Flagstaff, AZ, 86011, United States

none specified

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: CB1, Conservation Ecology 1
Location: Tucson B/Starr Pass
Date: Monday, July 29th, 2019
Time: 9:15 AM
Number: CB1006
Abstract ID:619
Candidate for Awards:A. J. Sharp Award

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