CPC Plant Profile: Autumn Buttercup
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Plant Profile

Autumn Buttercup (Ranunculus aestivalis)

Autumn buttercup, grown in a greenhouse at the Arboretum of Flagstaff. Photo Credit: Joyce Maschinski
Description
  • Global Rank: N/A
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Ranunculaceae
  • State: UT
  • Nature Serve ID: 144911
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/25/1988

Autumn buttercup is so named because it flowers late in the season. This species is an herbaceous perennial with deeply palmately-lobed leaves clustered at the base of a flowering stalk. Flowering plants usually produce six to ten yellow flowers, with heaviest flowering during the months of July and August (Spence 1996, WWF 1990). The herb was first collected in 1894 near Panguitch, Utah and was initially relocated in 1948. L. Benson, the botanist who rediscovered the population, recommended that the plants shouldn't be collected because the population didn't appear very large or healthy. As of 1979, this plant was protected and considered possibly extinct. However, in 1982 a single population was discovered in a pasture, with a total of 400 plants in it. By 1988, this single known population had only 10 to 20 individuals in it. Understanding the urgency of saving this plant taxon, the Nature Conservancy was able to purchase the land, naming it the Sevier Valley Preserve. Shortly after that, another population of about 200 flowering individuals was found on the preserve. A monitoring program implemented at the Preserve has shown a trend toward steadily decreasing population size and reproductive output (Spence 1996).

Participating Institutions
Updates
Center for Plant Conservation
  • 12/02/2021
  • Propagation Research

The autumn buttercup, Ranunculus aestivalis is a wet meadow species limited to one to two small populations at an elevation of 1,963 m in the Sevier River Valley in southwestern Utah. It was thought to be extinct until 1982. Numbers declined from 500 in 1982 to 22 in 1989. The current known population within The Nature Conservancy Reserve is approximately 18 individuals. Another population within private land was found 11 km north of the reserve. Seeds from the Sevier Valley Reserve were germinated to obtain several culture and subculture lines. Shoots from each subculture were rooted in vitro, and resulting plantlets reintroduced in the reserve. One year survival was greater then 90%.

Center for Plant Conservation
  • 12/02/2021
  • Reintroduction

The autumn buttercup, Ranunculus aestivalis is a wet meadow species limited to one to two small populations at an elevation of 1,963 m in the Sevier River Valley in southwestern Utah. It was thought to be extinct until 1982. Numbers declined from 500 in 1982 to 22 in 1989. The current known population within The Nature Conservancy Reserve is approximately 18 individuals. Another population within private land was found 11 km north of the reserve. Seeds from the Sevier Valley Reserve were germinated to obtain several culture and subculture lines. Shoots from each subculture were rooted in vitro, and resulting plantlets reintroduced in the reserve. One year survival was greater then 90%.

Center for Plant Conservation
  • 11/25/2021
  • Reintroduction

Ranunculus aestivalis, the autumn buttercup, is known from one site in south central Utah, which is now owned by the Nature Conservancy. The population of buttercups on the site has been declining from several hundred to around 20 plants. Protocols for propagating R. aestivalis through tissue culture were developed at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden's Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW), in a project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Because the population in the wild was declining, a collaborative project was developed to use these methods to provide plants for augmentation of the population. The collaborative augmentation project is being funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Seeds of R. aestivalis were sent to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden by The Arboretum at Flagstaff. These seeds were germinated in vitro and each seedling was propagated using tissue culture to produce multiple plants. These plants were sent, in vitro, to The Arboretum at Flagstaff, where they were removed from the test tubes and acclimatized to soil conditions. Plants were then transported to the reintroduction site: The Nature Conservancy's Preserve, near Panguitch, UT. Staff and volunteers from the Nature Conservancy and faculty and students from Utah Valley State College planted the plants in June, 2007.

The plants were planted in two groups on the preserve. Half of the propagated plants were planted to augment the site of the remaining wild plants. The other half of the plants were planted in an area of the preserve that is slightly wetter. The plants were watered weekly for the first month after planting. There was 92% survival of the propagated plants during the first summer (2007).

Center for Plant Conservation
  • 11/25/2021
  • Propagation Research

Ranunculus aestivalis, the autumn buttercup, is known from one site in south central Utah, which is now owned by the Nature Conservancy. The population of buttercups on the site has been declining from several hundred to around 20 plants. Protocols for propagating R. aestivalis through tissue culture were developed at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden's Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW), in a project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Because the population in the wild was declining, a collaborative project was developed to use these methods to provide plants for augmentation of the population. The collaborative augmentation project is being funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Seeds of R. aestivalis were sent to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden by The Arboretum at Flagstaff. These seeds were germinated in vitro and each seedling was propagated using tissue culture to produce multiple plants. These plants were sent, in vitro, to The Arboretum at Flagstaff, where they were removed from the test tubes and acclimatized to soil conditions. Plants were then transported to the reintroduction site: The Nature Conservancy's Preserve, near Panguitch, UT. Staff and volunteers from the Nature Conservancy and faculty and students from Utah Valley State College planted the plants in June, 2007.

The plants were planted in two groups on the preserve. Half of the propagated plants were planted to augment the site of the remaining wild plants. The other half of the plants were planted in an area of the preserve that is slightly wetter. The plants were watered weekly for the first month after planting. There was 92% survival of the propagated plants during the first summer (2007).

  • 10/15/2020
  • Genetic Research

Genetic studies by Van Buren et al. (1994) showed that the taxon known as Ranuculus acriformis var. aestivalis should in fact be elevated to its own species, named Ranunculus aestivalis.

  • 10/15/2020
  • Demographic Research

Current demographic studies by Spence (1996) indicate that the species is subject to wide population swings

  • 10/15/2020
  • Living Collection

In October 2006, the Arboretum at Flagstaff began receiving plants of Autumn Buttercup from the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanic Garden CREW tissue culture lab. Over 500 plantlets were acclimated at The Arboretum for future experimental plantings.

  • 10/15/2020
  • Reintroduction

In 2007, The Arboretum at Flagstaff partnered with The Nature Conservancy in Utah, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanic Garden CREW, and Utah Valley State College in an experimental planting of Autumn Buttercup at the TNC Preserve, near Panguitch. In 2006, there were 18 individual Buttercup observed at the Preserve. The Arboretum sent 138 greenhouse plants to Renee West of Utah Valley State College to be planted in the experiment. Two experimental sites were chosen, a drier site near the historical population, and a wetter site a bit further away. The plants at the drier site exhibited higher survivorship (97%) vs the wetter site (88%) at the end of 2007. Survival in 2008 was 67% at the dry site and 6% at the wet site.

  • 10/15/2020
  • Reintroduction

In 2007, The Arboretum at Flagstaff partnered with The Nature Conservancy in Utah, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanic Garden CREW, and Utah Valley State College in an experimental planting of Autumn Buttercup at the TNC Preserve, near Panguitch. In 2006, there were 18 individual Buttercup observed at the Preserve. The Arboretum sent 138 greenhouse plants to Renee West of Utah Valley State College to be planted in the experiment. Two experimental sites were chosen, a drier site near the historical population, and a wetter site a bit further away. The plants at the drier site exhibited higher survivorship (97%) vs the wetter site (88%) at the end of 2007. Survival in 2008 was 67% at the dry site and 6% at the wet site.

  • 10/15/2020
  • Reintroduction

In 2007, The Arboretum at Flagstaff partnered with The Nature Conservancy in Utah, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanic Garden CREW, and Utah Valley State College in an experimental planting of Autumn Buttercup at the TNC Preserve, near Panguitch. In 2006, there were 18 individual Buttercup observed at the Preserve. The Arboretum sent 138 greenhouse plants to Renee West of Utah Valley State College to be planted in the experiment. Two experimental sites were chosen, a drier site near the historical population, and a wetter site a bit further away. The plants at the drier site exhibited higher survivorship (97%) vs the wetter site (88%) at the end of 2007. Survival in 2008 was 67% at the dry site and 6% at the wet site.

  • 10/15/2020
  • Reintroduction

In 2007, The Arboretum at Flagstaff partnered with The Nature Conservancy in Utah, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanic Garden CREW, and Utah Valley State College in an experimental planting of Autumn Buttercup at the TNC Preserve, near Panguitch. In 2006, there were 18 individual Buttercup observed at the Preserve. The Arboretum sent 138 greenhouse plants to Renee West of Utah Valley State College to be planted in the experiment. Two experimental sites were chosen, a drier site near the historical population, and a wetter site a bit further away. The plants at the drier site exhibited higher survivorship (97%) vs the wetter site (88%) at the end of 2007. Survival in 2008 was 67% at the dry site and 6% at the wet site.

  • 10/15/2020
  • Reintroduction

In 2007, The Arboretum at Flagstaff partnered with The Nature Conservancy in Utah, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanic Garden CREW, and Utah Valley State College in an experimental planting of Autumn Buttercup at the TNC Preserve, near Panguitch. In 2006, there were 18 individual Buttercup observed at the Preserve. The Arboretum sent 138 greenhouse plants to Renee West of Utah Valley State College to be planted in the experiment. Two experimental sites were chosen, a drier site near the historical population, and a wetter site a bit further away. The plants at the drier site exhibited higher survivorship (97%) vs the wetter site (88%) at the end of 2007. Survival in 2008 was 67% at the dry site and 6% at the wet site.

  • 10/15/2020
  • Reintroduction

On June 5, 2010, The Arboretum at Flagstaff brought 45 plants to the Preserve and planted them near the drier experimental site of 2007. There were no survivors from the 2007 experiment, deer or other ungulates were suspected as the culprits. We placed deer-proof fences around the experiment. Six weeks later, we could not locate any survivors. The plants were eaten by small mammals able to get through the deer fence. It turns out that voles are the primary threat to the buttercup in the Preserve. They don’t hibernate, and the thick ungrazed wiregrass at the Preserve gives them cover during the winter.

  • 10/15/2020
  • Reintroduction

In a joint effort between Weber State University (WSU) Department of Zoology, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) , the Arboretum at Flagstaff (TAF) and the USFWS another reintroduction effort was undertaken in June 2013. The June 2013 reintroduction differed from previous efforts in that half of the Preserve had grazing restored. The primary objectives of this project were to determine whether small mammals are preferentially grazing on the buttercup, or if grazing is making a more suitable habitat for the buttercup by decreasing plant competition, and/or if grazing is making a more suitable habitat for buttercup by decreasing small mammal habitat. After two years, of the 336 plants in the experiment, only 30 had survived (primarily in the grazed and caged treatment). Grazing by large mammals is an effective management strategy to reduce the number of voles present on the Preserve and should be continued. Herbivory from voles is a major risk for the autumn buttercup and future reintroduction attempts should include caging strategies to minimize exposure of the plants to vole herbivory. (Skopec, M. et al. Managed grazing is an effective strategy to restore habitat for the endangered autumn buttercup (Ranunculus aestivalis). Restoration Ecology, IN PREPARATION FOR PUBLICATION)

  • 10/15/2020
  • Reintroduction

In a joint effort between Weber State University (WSU) Department of Zoology, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) , the Arboretum at Flagstaff (TAF) and the USFWS another reintroduction effort was undertaken in June 2013. The June 2013 reintroduction differed from previous efforts in that half of the Preserve had grazing restored. The primary objectives of this project were to determine whether small mammals are preferentially grazing on the buttercup, or if grazing is making a more suitable habitat for the buttercup by decreasing plant competition, and/or if grazing is making a more suitable habitat for buttercup by decreasing small mammal habitat. After two years, of the 336 plants in the experiment, only 30 had survived (primarily in the grazed and caged treatment). Grazing by large mammals is an effective management strategy to reduce the number of voles present on the Preserve and should be continued. Herbivory from voles is a major risk for the autumn buttercup and future reintroduction attempts should include caging strategies to minimize exposure of the plants to vole herbivory. (Skopec, M. et al. Managed grazing is an effective strategy to restore habitat for the endangered autumn buttercup (Ranunculus aestivalis). Restoration Ecology, IN PREPARATION FOR PUBLICATION)

  • 10/15/2020
  • Reintroduction

In a joint effort between Weber State University (WSU) Department of Zoology, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) , the Arboretum at Flagstaff (TAF) and the USFWS another reintroduction effort was undertaken in June 2013. The June 2013 reintroduction differed from previous efforts in that half of the Preserve had grazing restored. The primary objectives of this project were to determine whether small mammals are preferentially grazing on the buttercup, or if grazing is making a more suitable habitat for the buttercup by decreasing plant competition, and/or if grazing is making a more suitable habitat for buttercup by decreasing small mammal habitat. After two years, of the 336 plants in the experiment, only 30 had survived (primarily in the grazed and caged treatment). Grazing by large mammals is an effective management strategy to reduce the number of voles present on the Preserve and should be continued. Herbivory from voles is a major risk for the autumn buttercup and future reintroduction attempts should include caging strategies to minimize exposure of the plants to vole herbivory. (Skopec, M. et al. Managed grazing is an effective strategy to restore habitat for the endangered autumn buttercup (Ranunculus aestivalis). Restoration Ecology, IN PREPARATION FOR PUBLICATION)

  • 10/15/2020
  • Reintroduction

In a joint effort between Weber State University (WSU) Department of Zoology, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) , the Arboretum at Flagstaff (TAF) and the USFWS another reintroduction effort was undertaken in June 2013. The June 2013 reintroduction differed from previous efforts in that half of the Preserve had grazing restored. The primary objectives of this project were to determine whether small mammals are preferentially grazing on the buttercup, or if grazing is making a more suitable habitat for the buttercup by decreasing plant competition, and/or if grazing is making a more suitable habitat for buttercup by decreasing small mammal habitat. After two years, of the 336 plants in the experiment, only 30 had survived (primarily in the grazed and caged treatment). Grazing by large mammals is an effective management strategy to reduce the number of voles present on the Preserve and should be continued. Herbivory from voles is a major risk for the autumn buttercup and future reintroduction attempts should include caging strategies to minimize exposure of the plants to vole herbivory. (Skopec, M. et al. Managed grazing is an effective strategy to restore habitat for the endangered autumn buttercup (Ranunculus aestivalis). Restoration Ecology, IN PREPARATION FOR PUBLICATION)

  • 10/15/2020
  • Reintroduction

In 2017, the State of Utah Endangered Species Mitigation Fund, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) , the Arboretum at Flagstaff (TAF) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service initiated the largest reintroduction of Autumn Buttercup to date. June 2017, we planted 900 individual buttercup into 10 separate sites on the TNC Preserve, where the entire Preserve had implemented limited cattle grazing to decrease the vegetative cover for small mammals. Sites were chosen based on best survivorship of past experiments, and all individuals were caged. The summer of 2017 proved to be severely dry, so we supplied water to all the individuals for a period of 3 months. As of September 2017, 721 individuals are alive.

  • 10/15/2020
  • Reintroduction

In 2017, the State of Utah Endangered Species Mitigation Fund, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) , the Arboretum at Flagstaff (TAF) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service initiated the largest reintroduction of Autumn Buttercup to date. June 2017, we planted 900 individual buttercup into 10 separate sites on the TNC Preserve, where the entire Preserve had implemented limited cattle grazing to decrease the vegetative cover for small mammals. Sites were chosen based on best survivorship of past experiments, and all individuals were caged. The summer of 2017 proved to be severely dry, so we supplied water to all the individuals for a period of 3 months. As of September 2017, 721 individuals are alive.

  • 10/15/2020
  • Reintroduction

In 2017, the State of Utah Endangered Species Mitigation Fund, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) , the Arboretum at Flagstaff (TAF) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service initiated the largest reintroduction of Autumn Buttercup to date. June 2017, we planted 900 individual buttercup into 10 separate sites on the TNC Preserve, where the entire Preserve had implemented limited cattle grazing to decrease the vegetative cover for small mammals. Sites were chosen based on best survivorship of past experiments, and all individuals were caged. The summer of 2017 proved to be severely dry, so we supplied water to all the individuals for a period of 3 months. As of September 2017, 721 individuals are alive.

  • 10/15/2020
  • Reintroduction

In 2017, the State of Utah Endangered Species Mitigation Fund, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) , the Arboretum at Flagstaff (TAF) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service initiated the largest reintroduction of Autumn Buttercup to date. June 2017, we planted 900 individual buttercup into 10 separate sites on the TNC Preserve, where the entire Preserve had implemented limited cattle grazing to decrease the vegetative cover for small mammals. Sites were chosen based on best survivorship of past experiments, and all individuals were caged. The summer of 2017 proved to be severely dry, so we supplied water to all the individuals for a period of 3 months. As of September 2017, 721 individuals are alive.

  • 10/15/2020
  • Tissue Culture

Attempts to propagate this species using tissue culture at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanic Garden have proved to be successful, and many plants have been sent to Arboretum of Flagstaff for continuing reintroduction projects.

  • 10/15/2020
  • Propagation Research

In vitro propagation protocols for this species have been developed at CREW (Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden), (Pence et al., 2008) and these have been used to provide several hundred plants for outplantings in 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2017.

  • 10/15/2020
  • Tissue Culture

Tissue culture lines and some acclimatized plants are maintained at CREW.

  • 10/15/2020
  • Living Collection

Tissue culture lines and some acclimatized plants are maintained at CREW.

  • 10/15/2020
  • Seed Collection

The Arboretum at Flagstaff has collected seed of Ranunculus aestivalis from 21 maternal lines from a population of 2000 individuals located at: UT, Garfield County, Sevier River, new BLM parcel, north of Panguitch (Accession #2019-0052). The total number of seed collected for long-term storage is 717.

Sheila Murray
  • 11/01/2019

The Arboretum at Flagstaff has collected seed of Ranunculus aestivalis from 21 maternal lines from a population of 2000 individuals located at: UT, Garfield County, Sevier River, new BLM parcel, north of Panguitch (Accession #2019-0052). The total number of seed collected for long-term storage is 717.

Valerie Pence
  • 01/08/2018

Tissue culture lines and some acclimatized plants are maintained at CREW.

Valerie Pence
  • 01/08/2018

In vitro propagation protocols for this species have been developed at CREW (Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden), (Pence et al., 2008) and these have been used to provide several hundred plants for outplantings in 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2017.

Sheila Murray
  • 11/17/2017

From data from J.R. Spence 1996, estimated the maximum age of buttercup is 5 years, and there is low winter survival, perhaps due to herbivory.
 

Sheila Murray
  • 11/17/2017

In 2017, the State of Utah Endangered Species Mitigation Fund, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) , the Arboretum at Flagstaff (TAF) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service initiated the largest reintroduction of Autumn Buttercup to date. June 2017, we planted 900 individual buttercup into 10 separate sites on the TNC Preserve, where the entire Preserve had implemented limited cattle grazing to decrease the vegetative cover for small mammals. Sites were chosen based on best survivorship of past experiments, and all individuals were caged. The summer of 2017 proved to be severely dry, so we supplied water to all the individuals for a period of 3 months. As of September 2017, 721 individuals are alive.
 

Sheila Murray
  • 11/17/2017

In a joint effort between Weber State University (WSU) Department of Zoology, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) , the Arboretum at Flagstaff (TAF) and the USFWS another reintroduction effort was undertaken in June 2013. The June 2013 reintroduction differed from previous efforts in that half of the Preserve had grazing restored. The primary objectives of this project were to determine whether small mammals are preferentially grazing on the buttercup, or if grazing is making a more suitable habitat for the buttercup by decreasing plant competition, and/or if grazing is making a more suitable habitat for buttercup by decreasing small mammal habitat. After two years, of the 336 plants in the experiment, only 30 had survived (primarily in the grazed and caged treatment). Grazing by large mammals is an effective management strategy to reduce the number of voles present on the Preserve and should be continued. Herbivory from voles is a major risk for the autumn buttercup and future reintroduction attempts should include caging strategies to minimize exposure of the plants to vole herbivory. (Skopec, M. et al. Managed grazing is an effective strategy to restore habitat for the endangered autumn buttercup (Ranunculus aestivalis). Restoration Ecology, IN PREPARATION FOR PUBLICATION)

Sheila Murray
  • 11/17/2017

On June 5, 2010, The Arboretum at Flagstaff brought 45 plants to the Preserve and planted them near the drier experimental site of 2007. There were no survivors from the 2007 experiment, deer or other ungulates were suspected as the culprits. We placed deer-proof fences around the experiment. Six weeks later, we could not locate any survivors. The plants were eaten by small mammals able to get through the deer fence. It turns out that voles are the primary threat to the buttercup in the Preserve. They don’t hibernate, and the thick ungrazed wiregrass at the Preserve gives them cover during the winter.

Sheila Murray
  • 11/17/2017

In 2007, The Arboretum at Flagstaff partnered with The Nature Conservancy in Utah, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanic Garden CREW, and Utah Valley State College in an experimental planting of Autumn Buttercup at the TNC Preserve, near Panguitch. In 2006, there were 18 individual Buttercup observed at the Preserve. The Arboretum sent 138 greenhouse plants to Renee West of Utah Valley State College to be planted in the experiment. Two experimental sites were chosen, a drier site near the historical population, and a wetter site a bit further away.  The plants at the drier site exhibited higher survivorship (97%) vs the wetter site (88%) at the end of 2007. Survival in 2008 was 67% at the dry site and 6% at the wet site. 
 

Sheila Murray
  • 11/17/2017

In October 2006, the Arboretum at Flagstaff began receiving plants of Autumn Buttercup from the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanic Garden CREW tissue culture lab. Over 500 plantlets were acclimated at The Arboretum for future experimental plantings.
 

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to Garfield County, Utah and one of the state's rarest and most restricted plants. It was presumed extinct until its rediscovery in 1982, when a population of about 450 plants was found. Since then, that population has declined sharply in numbers and vigor and a second population has been discovered. However, the total number of individuals is still only about 500. There is a very limited amount of suitable habitat in the area, and habitat degredation due to livestock grazing is occurring on much of it.

Joyce Maschinski, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Threats include: agriculture grazing, limitations from its small population, and restricted habitat desiccation. Diversion of springs that sub-irrigate the monitored stand and nearby prospective reintroduction sites also threaten this plant taxon.

Joyce Maschinski, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

This taxon is only known from two populations with greatly fluctuating numbers in Garfield County, Utah (Spence 1996).

Joyce Maschinski, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Current demographic studies by Spence (1996) indicate that the species is subject to wide population swings. Genetic studies by Van Buren et al. (1994) showed that the taxon known as Ranuculus acriformis var. aestivalis should in fact be elevated to its own species, named Ranunculus aestivalis.

Joyce Maschinski, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

It is uncertain whether the current management regime on The Nature Conservancy's land is helping or hurting the species, because grazing is problematic, but so is competition. Monitoring of this species was begun in the Sevier Valley Preserve in 1991, the results of which revealed a dramatic decline in population numbers and reproductive output (Spence 1996).

Joyce Maschinski, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

We continue to investigate what conditions are necessary to maintain healthy populations.

Joyce Maschinski, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Attempts to propagate this species using tissue culture at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanic Garden have proved to be successful, and many plants have been sent to Arboretum of Flagstaff for continuing reintroduction projects.

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Nomenclature
Taxon Ranunculus aestivalis
Authority (L. Benson) Van Buren & K.T. Harper
Family Ranunculaceae
CPC Number 3705
ITIS 508016
USDA RAAE
Common Names Autumn Buttercup | Autumn Sharp Buttercup | Autumn-fir Buttercup | Fall Buttercup
Associated Scientific Names Ranunculus acriformis var. aestivalis | Ranunculus aestivalis | Ranunculus acris L. var. aestivalis
Distribution Found only in the Sevier Valley Preserve in south-central Utah, which is a 44-acre property (Spence 1996).
State Rank
State State Rank
Utah S1
Habitat

These plants will typically grow in wet, bog-like meadows adjacent to the Sevier River in Utah at 2000 meters in elevation (WWF 1990). In a 1984 study between two sub-populations, Mutz found that more individuals grew when forb- and graminoid-dominated mounds were differenciated. Spence also observed the growing habits between two sub-population in 1991, this time noting how individuals growing at a higher elevation and drier area were more successful.

Ecological Relationships

Spence (1991) found closely associated plant species found in close proximity to the autumn buttercup, including stiff blue-eyed grass, arctic rush, scratchgrass, and alkali buttercup, The latter is also of the Ranunculus genus, proving that R. aestivalis individuals are gregarious when it comes to competing for resources. There was no depression in fecundity resulted from supposed competition.

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Butterflies & Moths
Brush-footed butterflies Chlosyne gorgone Floral Visitor Link
Beetles
Coleoptera Confirmed Pollinator Link
Other
Hymenoptera Confirmed Pollinator Link

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