Abstract Detail

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

Johnson, Cindy [1].

Belowground biology, ecology and conservation of Botrychium.

The ecological health of many Botrychium species has been monitored through long-term demographic studies of aboveground populations. These studies have revealed significant annual variation in aboveground populations sometimes causing alarm and uncertainty among land managers. Most of the life history of Botrychium, the gametophyte and sporophyte stem, roots and apical bud, is spent belowground. Understanding the belowground sporophyte and gametophyte biology of Botrychium species in natural settings can be challenging, but such analyses are critical to understanding the dispersal, ecology, and conservation of these species both above and belowground. Belowground gametophytes and sporophytes are common in areas where spore‐releasing sporophyte leaves are present. To study the belowground biology, gametophytes and young sporophytes must be extracted from the soil and quantified. Comparing aboveground population census with belowground census we have found that substantially more plants exist belowground than are represented by aboveground leaves, and that belowground sporophytes can survive indefinitely without production of aboveground leaves. Botrychium is mycoheterotrophic allowing plants to persistent belowground for multiple years. Belowground analyses have proved the continued existence of belowground populations when the aboveground population has been absent for multiple years. These analyses have also shown the decline and potential extinctions of populations, due to habitat change, that once were abundant aboveground. The size and health of the belowground structure bank is critical in sustaining the long-term aboveground population and in buffering it from extinction. Conservation assessments of Botrychium population health and structure must include analyses of the belowground plants.

1 - Gustavus Adolphus College, Biology, 6602 Lakeway Drive, Anchorage, AK, 99502, USA

none specified

Presentation Type: Colloquium Presentations
Number: C4003
Abstract ID:127
Candidate for Awards:None

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