Water (or the lack thereof), management, and conservation of an endangered desert wetland obligate, Lilaeopsis schaffneriana var. recurva
- Subject Areas
- Conservation Biology, Ecology, Plant Science
- desert wetlands, endangered species, drought ecology, Arizona, conservation, management
- © 2017 Malcom et al.
- This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ Preprints) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.
- Cite this article
- 2017. Water (or the lack thereof), management, and conservation of an endangered desert wetland obligate, Lilaeopsis schaffneriana var. recurva. PeerJ Preprints 5:e2699v1 https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.2699v1
Huachuca water umbel, Lilaeopsis schaffneriana var. recurva, is a federally endangered desert wetland plant restricted to southeastern Arizona, USA, and adjacent portions of Mexico. Very little is known about the factors that influence the species presence, absence, and abundance, including the effects of wetland drying caused by drought or water withdrawals. We conducted three lines of research to address the lack of information about the species’ ecology using observational field research and controlled experiments. First, we examined ecological correlates of the species presence and absence along a perennial stream in Southeast Arizona where the species has been established for over a decade. Next, we used a full-factorial experiment to examine the species’ drought resistance and drought resilience. Last, we monitored transplanting efforts of the species along the upper Rio Yaqui. We found that distance to the nearest water umbel patch centroid—a measure of historical factors—and distance to surface water were the best predictors of the species’ presence and leaf density. The drought experiments demonstrated that leaf density is an important factor influencing both resistance and resilience: low leaf-density was associated with replicates reaching critical conditions approximately one full day before high leaf-density plants, and high leaf-density plants rebounded at nearly twice the rate of low-density plants when water became available. Transplants appeared to be most successful in areas where water levels remained relatively constant, herbaceous-layer competitors were rare, and water velocity was low. These results indicate that protecting existing populations by ensuring stable water sources is the most important action for conserving the species in current locations and future transplant locations.
This is a submission to PeerJ for review.
Supplemental analyses of Lilaeopsis drought ecology field data.