Bringing Back a Fugitive

Seabeach amaranth (Amaranthus pumilus) is a federally threatened, fugitive annual species found on barrier islands off Atlantic coast from South Carolina to Massachusetts. Beginning in the 1980s, the North Carolina Botanical Garden (NCBG) has worked to secure ex situ seed collections. Surveys for seabeach amaranth conducted in the late 1990s returned counts of >200,000 individuals range-wide, but subsequent surveys showed the species to be in rapid decline, with loss of approximately 98.5% of individuals by the early mid 2000s. In 2015, after numbers failed to rebound, NCBG began working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and other partner agencies toward species recovery. Here, we highlight the use of our ex situ seed collections to support reintroduction efforts and the methods we use to test and improve our approach. We will demonstrate our successes to date, as well as discuss how challenges we face are being addressed in ongoing projects to fight extinction and bring back this fugitive from decline.