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Abstract Detail

Conservation Biology

Hale, Clayton [1].

Habitat Needs and Threats Facing the Globally Imperiled Fothergilla milleri .

Miller's witch-alder (Fothergilla milleri) (Hamamelidaceae) is a small shrub known from a few populations in coastal Alabama, the panhandle of Florida, and one county in Georgia. According to NatureServe, F. milleri is a G2 globally imperiled species. It was first described in March of 2020 and is one of only two diploid species in the genus. Apart from broad generalizations, little is currently known about the habitat needs of the species. Additionally, its current conservation status needs to be reevaluated. The objective of this study is to quantify the habitat needs of F. milleri and better understand the threats it faces. Additionally, a preliminary habitat suitability map is provided to guide conservation efforts. The results show F. milleri fills a unique niche in the transition between flatwood conifer forest and wetlands. Across the sampled populations, only 3,060 stems were found, 45% were in a single patch and 79% were in a single population. The findings show F. milleri is likely vulnerable to environmental stochasticity. Additionally, all seed pods found throughout the surveys were infected by an unknown gall making sexual reproduction highly unlikely. Lastly, many populations were under a thick midstory of Ilex glabra and Cliftonia monophyla. Intentional land management to remove this midstory is likely needed to support the species. Fire suppression has lead to these thick midstories. Reintroducing fire will likely have a positive effect on F. milleri populations. F. milleri is facing a myriad of threats to its existence, direct and intentional conservation efforts are likely required to save the species.

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1 - Mississippi State University, Forestry

Rare plants
habitat suitability model

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: CB01, Conservation Biology 1
Location: /
Date: Wednesday, July 21st, 2021
Time: 11:30 AM(EDT)
Number: CB01007
Abstract ID:120
Candidate for Awards:None

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