Ben Nyberg, National Tropical Botanical Garden
Understanding the distribution and abundance of rare plant populations is a critical first step to their conservation. In the past few years, botanists and technology specialists at the National Tropical Botanical Garden have been working together on drone methodology to survey the extreme cliff ecosystems of Kauai. 2020 was an exciting year for the management of one specific species – Lysimachia scopulensis. This plant was down to only two known individuals, but with the assistance of drones, our team was able to uncover a number of new populations and significantly increase their known range. Remote observation of phenology has been key in planning and executing on-the-ground collections efforts. By selecting individual plants that are in fruit and identifying optimal tie-in points for rope work, field operations are safer and more efficient. After what was a challenging year in many aspects, we have hope in preventing the extinction of Lysimachia scopulensis.