Home Forum topic Exceptional Species Curation How many individuals are needed to create a conservation living collection?

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    Stacy AndersonCPC Conservation Officer

    Cylindropuntia californica var californica is a rare cactus that rarely produces viable seed. How many cuttings from individuals from a small population of approximately 30 would be needed to create a living conservation collection?

    Joyce MaschinskiCPC Conservation Officer

    Probably best to have a cutting from all individuals (up to 50).


    Jason KsepkaSubscriber

    I also agree. If you have a high quality habitat where you might expect higher seed set you may try to increase seed production by taking cuttings from each plant as stated. Then if you have more room, take another set of cuttings from all plants, and repeat as long as you are not harming the plants and still have space in your planting site. This wil effectively capture the genetics of the original population, while increasing the population size and potential for seed production for storage or further conservation.

    If this project is intended to stand to scientific rigor I would suggest labeling each mother plant, then label any cuttings from that plant with the same ID. This way people who might want to work on your project in the future will have what info they need, even if you don’t need it for your project. The small round aluminum tags stuck in the ground with a nail at each plant seems to be a good way to label them without seeing the tags from a distance. 

    Good Luck with your work,

    Jason Ksepka

    Curator, Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve

    New Hope, Pa

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