Location: Vegetable ResearchTitle: Restoration of the endangered Ruth's golden aster (Pityopsis ruthii)
|SAXTON, ARNOLD - University Of Tennessee|
|CALL, GEOFF - Us Fish And Wildlife Service|
|DATTILO, ADAM - Tennessee Valley Authority|
Submitted to: Southeastern Naturalist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/16/2017
Publication Date: 2/8/2018
Citation: Wadl, P.A., Saxton, A.M., Call, G., Dattilo, A.J. 2018. Restoration of the endangered Ruth's golden aster (Pityopsis ruthii). Southeastern Naturalist. 17(1):19-31. https://doi.org/10.1656/058.017.0101.
Interpretive Summary: Ruth's golden aster (Pityopsis ruthii) is an endangered perennial that only grows on small sections of the Hiwassee and Ocoee Rivers, in southeastern Tennessee. Previous efforts to restore plants into suitable habitat on both rivers have been challenging and for the most part unsuccessful. The goal of the research was to develop a protocol for successful restoration of Ruth's golden aster. The research was carried out by a USDA scientist at U.S. Vegetable Laboratory, Charleston, SC, a statistician at the University of Tennessee, and biologists from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Tennessee Valley Authority. Seedlings of the endangered species were subjected to two experimental treatments and planted at six locations and monitored through three growing seasons. Data was collected for the number of stems, stem height, leaf number, flowering, and survival. Statistical analysis indicated that survival was higher for plantings that were mulched compared to non-mulched plantings. There were no differences in three year survival, number of stems, stem height, leaf number, or flowering between mulched or non-mulched plantings. Successful reproduction was observed through germination of seeds collected from experimental plantings. The methods established are a major step towards meeting the species recovery plan objective of developing the ability to establish Ruth's golden aster on suitable habitat. Additionally, we provide a frame work for restoration of critical populations should those local populations become extinct.
Technical Abstract: Pityopsis ruthii Small (Small), Ruth’s golden aster, is an endangered herbaceous perennial that is endemic to small sections of the Hiwassee and Ocoee Rivers in the Southeastern United States. Our objective was to test the effect of bonded fiber matrix (BFM) on establishment and fecundity of P. ruthii in order to develop a robust restoration protocol. We augmented existing populations with plants grown from achenes collected at each restoration location. Plantings were monitored through three growing seasons and stem number, stem height, leaf number, flowering incidence, and flower heads per plant were measured in the spring and fall of each season. Additionally, one month post-planting survival was measured. Plants at each location were randomly assigned to a treatment (BFM vs. no BFM) and analyzed as randomized complete block design. Germination rate of filled seeds, number of low vigor seedlings, and percent of seedlings planted after 14 days of acclimatization differed significantly across sites. Survival was significantly higher at one month, Fall Year 1, Spring/Fall Year 2, and Spring Year 3 for the plants mulched with BFM compared to the control. However, there were no significant differences between treatment for stem number, stem height, leaf number, flowering incidence, or final three year survival. The methods developed herein represent a major step towards meeting the recovery plan objective of developing the ability to establish P. ruthii on suitable habitat. Additionally, we provide a frame work for augmentation or restoration of critical populations should those locals experience be threatened by extirpation.