Controls on Rarity and Persistence in Wetland Plants

EPA Grant Number: F5F11657
Title: Controls on Rarity and Persistence in Wetland Plants
Investigators: Scanga, Sara E.
Institution: SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: August 29, 2005 through August 28, 2008
Project Amount: $104,504
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships


Hotspots of rare species on the landscape, wetlands are threatened by human-accelerated environmental changes. Currently, no sufficient tools have been developed to protect many vulnerable wetland plant species from extinction. The primary goal of this research is to examine the patterns and processes of wetland plant rarity. Understanding the controls on wetland plant rarity will assist conservation managers in predicting and preventing extinctions.

Controls on rarity will be examined by comparing traits of rare and common wetland plants of North America. The focus will be on one rare species, Trollius laxus (spreading globe-flower, Ranunculaceae), primarily examining the mechanisms behind its persistence in forested wetlands and at its range margins, and evaluating the value of a specific management tool, creating canopy gaps, for its conservation.


Because the ability to disperse and colonize new sites is of particular importance in the distribution of wetland species, a comparison between seed traits among rare and common wetland plants will be investigated. The project will focus on the effects of environmental characteristics on the demography of T. laxus at open and forested wetlands at both its northern and eastern range margins. Also, there will be an examination of the effects of canopy gap creation on T. laxus demography in a controlled field experiment in a forested wetland.

Expected Results:

In addition to providing managers in five states with a specific tool for conserving a single rare plant, T. laxus, this research is aimed at the general needs of wetland managers and researchers at the national level. By determining the controls on wetland plant rarity, project results will help to guide wetland preservation, management, and restoration decisions so that rare species are able to persist.

Supplemental Keywords:

Trollius laxus, spreading globeflower, wetland plants, rarity, rare and endangered species, persistence, extinction, conservation, management, Ranunculaceae, rich fen, northern white-cedar swamp, northern conifer swamp, seed traits, dispersal, geographic range, demography, population matrix modeling, canopy gaps,, Scientific Discipline, Water, ECOSYSTEMS, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Restoration, Environmental Monitoring, Terrestrial Ecosystems, Ecology and Ecosystems, Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration, wetlands, exotic plant species, endangered species, nutrient loading, invasive plant species, wet prairie restoration, wetland plant species extinction, ecological recovery, wetland restoration, aquatic ecosystems, nitrogen compounds, environmental rehabilitation, forested wetlands

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2006
  • 2007
  • Final