Going loco searching for LOCO!

–By Lucy Keehn

We have had many adventures during our Native Plant Society of Oregon internship.  In the first week of May, our crew rapidly expanded from the usual 5 to a lively 16, as we were joined in the field by our Executive Director, Tom Kaye, and 10 volunteers from all over Oregon, in order to monitor the population of the endangered Cook’s Desert Parsley (Lomatium cookii), also refereed to as LOCO. Cook’s Desert Parsley is closely related to Lomatium bradshawii, which is an endangered Apiaceae found only in the Willamette Valley. The Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE) has been involved with monitoring the species, habitat, and community at this location for more than 20 years, in partnership with the Medford Bureau of Land Management (BLM) District. It was exciting to be able to contribute to such a long-lasting project that so many people have invested much time and care.

IAE/NPSO Interns, Lucy and Nadav, monitoring Cook's desert parsley at Reeve's Creek.

We worked in the Illinois Flats, one of the remaining two population centers of the endangered Cook’s Desert Parsley (the other is north of Medford Plains) (Kagan, 1994). Cook’s Desert Parsley is a small and inconspicuous plant when not flowering; its leaves are narrow and compoundly divided, easily hiding among surrounding vegetation.

The vegetation can be so hard to find, it often means monitoring on your hands and knees with your nose almost in the soil. Sometimes it would take waiting for a small breeze to reveal the hidden Cook’s lomatium, which dips and bends in the wind in contrast to the shaking grasses. Besides being glad to see healthy reproductive plants, we were happy that the creamy yellow umbels made the plants much easier to spot! Thankfully, the icy Illinois River, Deer Creek, and the Cave Junction Dairy Queen were nearby to reward the hot search with a cold treat!

We took a field trip one evening to see the Darlingtonia californica in bloom at 8 Mile Mountain; definitely a highlight of this summer. These incredible carnivorous plants grow in the slowly flowing water of the fen and source nutrients from the rotting insects that fall into their hollow stalk. The insects are lured into the hood by the light shining through the translucent “windows” in the ceiling of hood. Confused by the light, they tumble into the stalk where small downward-pointing hairs prevent them from escaping. The flower of the Darlingtonia is one of the most menacing I have ever seen- the drooping dark purplish-red petals enclosed by large yellow sepals definitely looked the part of a carnivorous plant!

This trip was a great opportunity to tap the impressive collective knowledge of the volunteer crew; we learned from the birding expertise of Marcia, Marisa and Sandy, about Oregon botany from Cindy and our BLM partner Julie, about distance biking in Oregon from the power-couple Wendie and Mike, and about the power of enthusiasm and good vibes from Don. Of course, we also all learned about how to relax at the Siskiyou Field Institute like a true “Duke” from the John Wayne cutout! Thanks to all of the volunteers who endured the heat with us, and to the Siskiyou Field Institute for hosting us at such a beautiful base-camp!

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The Land of Milkvetch and Honey bees

–By Nadav Mouallem For the ninth week of our Native Plant Society of Oregon internship (June 5-9), the Conservation Research field crew traveled to Vale, OR, to monitor Astragalus mulfordiae (we refer to it as ASMU), or Mulford’s milkvetch. Although we were already a seasoned field crew at this point, this trip was like no […]

Adventures of an IAE/NPSO Intern

— By Abbie Harold As a Native Plant Society of Oregon Intern with the Conservation Research Program at the Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE) we travel to remote corners of Oregon that are home to rare and endangered plants, some of which are endemic to Oregon. Many of the locations we visit are areas of […]

Welcome 2017 Conservation Research Interns!

On April 9, Conservation Research welcomed our new crew of interns: Lucy Keehn, Abbie Harold, and Nadav Mouallem! We have already put them to work, and they have gained valuable experience planting Kincaid’s lupine in Douglas county and monitoring Bradshaw’s lomatium in the West Eugene Wetlands. Lucy graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A. in […]

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Table Rocks Rocks!

For our first trip of the field season, we visited Table Rocks outside of Medford, Oregon to study Limnanthes pumila ssp. pumila, or dwarf woolly meadowfoam, a threatened endemic species that relies on vernal pool habitat. Table Rocks consists of two plateaus formed by volcanic activity and shaped by erosion. The trails up to the plateaus wind through oak savanna which is home to many different species, including Cooper's hawk, turkey vulture, lark sparrow, and wild turkey that we observed on our hikes. Once you reach the plateaus, you are surrounded by a magnificent wildflower display and a plethora of busy pollinators, and can enjoy a spectacular view of Mount McLoughlin.

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This is a mature dwarf woolly meadowfoam after it has blossomed.

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We monitored plant communities, which involved challenging grass identification.

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The crew on top of Lower Table Rock after a long, steep hike.

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A blanket of camas along the trail.

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A young amateur botanist that we met. He enthusiastically pointed out flowers to his mom!

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A remaining vernal pool at Lower Table Rock. A home to dwarf woolly meadowfoam as well as fairy shrimp, frogs, and diving beetles!

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We saw evidence of elk grazing on wild onion and other plants.

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A spectacular view of Mount McLoughlin from Upper Table Rock.

We really enjoyed getting to know each other on our first trip and learning about the vernal pool ecosystems at Table Rocks!

Conservation Research Adventures to the Desert

In June we said goodbye to our Corvallis western Oregon home and set out for a long day of traveling to Vale, Oregon on the eastern part of the state to monitor Astragalus mulfordiae, or Mulford’s milkvetch. Although the journey was long, it was a beautiful sight to watch the greens of the Cascades turn […]

The Great Fork Migration of 2015

For sometime now, the fork population at the Institute for Applied Ecology has enjoyed a relatively stable and consistent biannual migration, where these lovely eating utensils disappear for some months usually correlating with the start of the field season, and return with the end of the field season. This season however has been markedly different […]

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Adaptive Restoration Efforts in Willapa Bay!

In June we traveled to the north coast by Astoria, OR and Long Beach, WA to assess the health and restoration potential at several different coastal prairie sites. Three of the five sites were located on land managed by the North Coast Land Conservancy, a non-profit that tackles conservation projects from the Columbia River south to Lincoln City. The other two sites are located on land owned by the National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The ultimate goal of this project is to evaluate the effects of adaptive restoration techniques on coastal prairie. The results of this project will provide useful information for future restoration efforts of coastal prairie, which is native habitat for the Oregon silverspot butterfly. In order to research the best adaptive management methods for prairie restoration, three techniques and a control were established: herbicide, soil inversion, and soil removal. The success of each restoration method is evaluated by collecting plant community data in all research plots every year. Within each plot we estimated percent cover of all plants occurring in four square meters. The plot photos are pictured below:

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Control: These plots are established without any treatments but are exposed to the same conditions (weather, climate, herbivory, etc.) to create a basis for comparison with other treatments. Photo credit: Emma MacDonald

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Topsoil removal: The entire nutrient rich top layer (essentially all organic material) was excavated from these plots leaving a sandy nutrient poor layer for new plants to colonize. Photo credit: Connor Whitaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Topsoil Inversion: Vegetation and soil in these plots were turned over so they mimicked dune-soil conditions where nutrient rich soil layers (topsoil) move under or over nutrient poor (sandy) layers over time. Photo credit: Connor Whitaker

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Herbicide application: Glyphosate was applied to these plots to assess the effect herbicide has on native plant community composition by exterminating exotic species. Photo credit: Connor Whitaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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View of Surf Pines study site: From a distance, the experimental design and all the treatments are shown. Photo credit: Emma MacDonald

Look for more information on these study sites and coastal prairie restoration efforts in a future edition of the Native Plant Society of Oregon's Bulletin!