SERDP & ESTCP Webinar Series

SERDP and ESTCP have launched a webinar series to promote the transfer of innovative, cost-effective and sustainable solutions developed through projects funded in five program areas. The webinar series targets Department of Defense and Department of Energy practitioners, the regulatory community and environmental researchers with the goal of providing cutting edge and practical information that is easily accessible at no cost.

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Webinar #78 (09/06/2018)

Informing Restoration Programs for Threatened and Endangered Plant Species 

Dr. Erin Questad, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Mr. Matthew Hohmann, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center

Thursday, September 6, 2018

12:00 PM ET (9:00 AM PT)

Presentation Slides

Abstracts

"Habitat Suitability Modeling for Restoration and Reintroduction" by Dr. Erin Questad

Overcoming barriers to plant establishment in dryland environments is especially critical for threatened and endangered plant species management on Department of Defense (DoD) installations. Outplanting is a tool commonly used in the practice of sustaining plant populations that are at risk of extinction. However, outplanting programs for many plant species have had limited success. Desiccation and water stress are significant barriers to plant survival in most reintroduction and restoration outplanting programs. Our habitat suitability modeling (HSM) technology is the first of its kind to formally incorporate the importance of microtopography for plant growth and survival into landscape planning for management of at-risk species. The HSM technology uses digital elevation models (DEMs) made from high resolution airborne Light Detecting and Ranging (LiDAR) data. The DEMs are used to define topographic depressions that are protected from prevailing winds (high suitability sites) in contrast to ridges and other exposed areas (low suitability sites). Our demonstration validated the utility of the HSM to guide reintroduction efforts at the Pohakuloa Training Area in Hawaii. The project also demonstrated how this technology could facilitate plant conservation planning at other DoD installations. This presentation will provide an overview of the project scope and findings, and introduce an ArcMap toolbox that can be used to create a HSM for any landscape.

"Operational-Scale Demonstration of Propagation Protocols and Comparative Demographic Monitoring for Reintroducing Five Southeastern Endangered and At-Risk Plants" by Mr. Matthew Hohmann

DoD installations are subject to extensive encroachment by urban development. The growing burden of managing many listed and at-risk plant species falls to installations, which manage much of the remaining suitable habitat. The overall objective of this project was to increase the diversity and success of rare-plant conservation strategies available to managers. We executed an operational-scale demonstration of recently developed protocols for propagating and reintroducing one endangered (Lysimachia asperulifolia) and four at-risk plant species (Amorpha georgiana, Astragalus michauxii, Lilium pyrophilum, and Pyxidanthera brevifolia) found on multiple southeastern installations. In order to optimize reintroduction success and cost efficiency, we propagated, outplanted, and monitored the growth, survivorship and reproduction of over six thousand transplants of different age/size classes over multiple years. The results of this project provide DoD with expanded conservation strategies and new opportunities to share conservation responsibility with partner agencies and organizations. Importantly, the propagation and reintroduction protocols enable proactive management that can delay or preclude the need for Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing and can assist in species delisting/down-listing. This presentation will describe demonstration results for each species, including implementation details likely of interest to managers.

Speaker Biographies

Erin Questad

Dr. Erin Questad is an Associate Professor of Biology at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, California. Her current areas of research include vegetation mapping, restoration and plant community ecology, and the re-introduction of endangered plant species with field sites in Southern California and Hawaii. Several current projects focus on using remote sensing data to better understand plant communities and plan restoration and conservation programs, with scientific collaborators from the USDA Forest Service, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, and several non-profit conservation organizations. Over the last seven years, she and her collaborators have developed a landscape modelling tool to aid in outplanting programs for native plant restoration and reintroduction programs. Prior to working at Cal Poly Pomona, she was a Research Ecologist for the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry in Hilo, HI, part of the USDA Forest Service. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Pennsylvania State University in 1997 and a doctoral degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Kansas in 2008.

Hohmann

Mr. Matthew Hohmann is a research ecologist who works at the Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Champaign, Illinois. His current research focuses on multiple aspects of rare plant conservation, fire ecology, and invasive plant management. He has co-authored more than 30 peer-reviewed research papers on topics ranging from soil erosion modeling to bat hibernation behavior. He earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in biology from Ohio University.

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