Cooperative Recovery for Echinacea laevigata (smooth coneflower) and Helianthus schweinitzii (Schweinitz’s sunflower)

Rare species from similar fire maintained communities are likely to have similar recovery needs in Endangered Species Act recovery plans.  Echinacea laevigata (smooth coneflower) and Helianthus schweinitzii (Schweinitz’s sunflower) occur in separate, but similar fire maintained habitats in the Southeastern US.  Fire suppression and fragmentation have relegated both species to marginal habitat on forest edges, roadsides and utility rights-of-way.  Even on conservation lands with periodic fires, populations often remain along the edges.  Therefore there is a need for additional habitat management and for understanding population response to these actions in order to ensure population resilience and promote growth into high quality areas.  Here I will showcase a partnership between the North Carolina Botanical Garden, NC Plant Conservation Program and NC State University aiming to meet recovery goals and to promote population growth.  Over 5 years, we seek to improve habitat quality for E. laevigata and H. schweinitzii through selective thinning, invasive species management and prescribed fire.  Additionally we will use a demographic study to inform population models to elucidate how fire and tree canopy structure affect population dynamics of both of these species.