As part of a mitigation plan, we transplanted a clone of the endangered Michaux’s sumac (Rhus michauxii) from an imperiled site to two lightly forested sites. Using hand trowels, we removed 96 aboveground shoots with adjacent roots and 120 m of connecting root material. We wanted to determine whether Michaux’s sumac can be successfully transplanted both from above-ground shoots with roots and from roots only, whether direct out-planting or recovery in a greenhouse prior to out-planting provided higher
survivorship, and whether transplanting is viable for mitigation. Planting above-ground shoots with roots and roots-only gave similar first-year survivorship both in the forest and in the greenhouse. Allowing plants
to recover in a greenhouse prior to out-planting gave higher survivorship after one year. After 7–8 years, the number of above-ground shoots at the two sites increased to 203 and 262, an increase of 37 and 219% respectively, indicating that transplanting is a viable option for mitigation.
Mitigating Impacts to Michaux’s Sumac (Rhus michauxii Sarg.): a Case Study of Transplanting an Endangered Shrub
RICHARD BRAHAM, CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, and MARJORIE BOYER
CASTANEA 71(4): 265–271. DECEMBER 2006
Endemic to the inner Coastal Plain and lower Piedmont of Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas (a historic collection from Florida may have been a waif). Currently, the species is known from approximately 50 extant occurrences. In 1993 a large, prolifically fruiting population was discovered on U.S. Army lands in Virginia, and the Army is now actively protecting the plants. Most extant populations are now protected and managed for. Overall, however, the species has been in decline: in the 100 years following its discovery in 1895, half of all the historic occurrences were extirpated, largely due to habitat conversion to agriculture and other uses. These threats are ongoing as are threats from the nearly universal suppression of natural fires within this species' range, geographic fragmentation and isolation of small, single-sex populations, hybridization with other species, and the potential for accidental destruction of roadside and other vulnerably situated populations.
Geographic isolation of small sized, single sex populations
Habitat conversion to agricultural and silvicultural activities
Residential and industrial development
Mechanized military training activities (potential)
36 populations (2 in GA, 3 in VA, 31 in NC)
(North Carolina Ecological Services 2002)
Genetic analyses have provided information on how the current genetic variation is distributed among the extant populations. A cooperative effort between the University of Georgia, NC Nature Conservancy, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service's Asheville, NC Field Office. (Sherman-Broyles, et al 1992).
Demographic studies of 14 North Carolina populations, and further research on species biology conducted by the NC Field Office of The Nature Conservancy (Savage et al. 1991).
Rare and endangered plant survey of Fort Bragg, NC (Russo et al. 1993).
Propagation techniques have been researched at the North Carolina Botanical Garden (Gardner 1995).
Reintroduction efforts at Fort Bragg (NC) as well as at historic sites in Georgia
Prescribed burning is being conducted at NC Sandhills Game Lands and at Fort Bragg
Restoration plans include the introduction of the alternative sex into single-sex populations, and the use of donor populations with the highest levels of genotypic diversity (as determined by genetic research, above)
Material for reintroduction has been propagated by two commercial nurseries (Niche Gardens in Chapel Hill, NC and Woodlanders in Aiken, SC)
It appears that research has been directing management practices appropriately.
As always, continued monitoring, additional surveys, and the protection of additional suitable habitat are needed.
The success of reintroduction efforts should be evaluated, as well as the efficacy and timing of burning/mowing to maintain open habitat.
A primary goal of research and management should be to increase the number of sexually reproductive individuals.
Perform additional genetic analyses to determine effects of efforts to conserve genetic diversity.
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