Abstract Detail

Ferns at the extreme: the case of moonworts, grape-ferns and adder’s tongues of the family Ophioglossaceae

Popovich, Steve [1], Farrar, Donald [2].

Persistence of Botrychium plants belowground without production of aboveground leaves.

A few aboveground leaves of Botrychium campestre were discovered in dry native prairie in eastern Colorado in 1990. Over the following 20 years, dedicated search found few or no aboveground leaves at the site, although excavation of soil samples revealed continued presence of belowground plants. Following two consecutive years of high precipitation in 2010 and 2011, many robust aboveground leaves were produced. These observations attest to the ability of Botrychium plants, and possibly other ferns and lycophytes with endomycorhizal support, to persist indefinitely without production of aboveground photosynthetic leaves. Critical to this hypothesis is continued health of the mycorrhizal symbiont. We present evidence linking Botrychium populations, and thus mycorrhizal support, to ecological succession along mountain road shoulders in Colorado, and to arrested ecological succession in periodically disturbed habitats such as snow avalanche shoots, ski slopes and utility corridors.

1 - 7866 Antelope Ridge Pt, Colorado Springs, CO, 80920, United States
2 - Iowa State University, Department Of Ecology, Evolution And Organismal Biology, 251 Bessey Hall, Ames, IA, 50011.0, United States

drought resistance
species conservation.

Presentation Type: Colloquium Presentations
Number: C4004
Abstract ID:126
Candidate for Awards:Edgar T. Wherry award

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