Providing evidence to improve practice

The journal, Conservation Evidence

Our online journal publishes research, monitoring results and case studies on the effects of conservation interventions. All papers include some monitoring of the effects of the intervention and are written by, or in partnership with, those who did the conservation work. It includes interventions such as habitat creation, habitat restoration, translocations, reintroductions, invasive species control, and education or integrated conservation development programmes, from anywhere around the world.

A volume is created each year with peer-reviewed papers published throughout the year. We now accept Short Communications as well as standard papers.

Special issues contain new papers on a specific topic.

Virtual collections collate papers published in the journal on specific topics such as management of particular groups of species.

To search for papers on a specific topic within the journal select 'Advanced search' on the Home page, enter your keyword(s) and within the Source box type: "conservation evidence".

Plant management



We tested the effects of herbaceous vegetation enhancement on the abundance and richness of plants and arthropods in a wine-producing vineyard in Israel. We compared the abundance and species richness of plants and arthropods between a plot seeded with local annual plants and an unseeded plot. We also compared soil content and grape quality parameters in seeded versus unseeded plots in the vineyard. Seeding increased plant cover and plant species richness in the spring, but reduced plant cover and did not affect species richness in summer. Arthropods, and especially parasitoids and generalist predators, were more abundant and diverse in the seeded than in the unseeded plots in spring, both on the herbaceous vegetation and on the vine foliage. Arthropods were more abundant in the herbaceous vegetation than on the vine foliage in spring, but not in summer. The soil in seeded plots was richer in ammonium nitrogen and organic matter, while the grapes were smaller and sweeter. Our findings showing a general increase in biodiversity, combined with additional considerations, led the managers of the vineyard to implement these vegetation enhancement practices in 85% of their vineyards.

 

Fencing is the most commonly used management intervention to prevent damage to young woodland regeneration from deer. However, damage can also be prevented through reducing red deer numbers and alleviating browsing pressure. We investigated the effect of reducing red deer Cervus elaphus density on browsing impact and growth of Scots pine Pinus sylvestris seedlings at Mar Lodge Estate, Cairngorms, UK. Red deer numbers were reduced significantly between 1995 and 2016, and there was a concomitant significant reduction in deer pellet densities and browsing incidents. Positive growth of seedlings was small in the years soon after the deer reduction programme began, and was still being suppressed by browsing in 2007. However subsequently, seedling growth has increased as red deer numbers have been maintained below 3.5/km2. Red deer reduction appears to have been effective in reducing browsing impacts on Scots pine seedlings, allowing successful growth and establishment of regeneration.

 

This study evaluates the factors affecting community mangrove restoration at nine sites in eight different coastal villages of Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Between June 2012 and April 2014, more than 8,400 mangrove seedlings of five species were planted on both restoration sites and sites with no history of mangroves. The timing of the plantings was uncontrolled, and some communities continued haphazard planting between the two periods. The success rate was highly variable and after 22 months the percentage of established plants ranged between 0 and 102%. My findings showed that the choice of genus planted, protection from wave action and the substrate were critical factors in reestablishment. Survival was highest for Rhizophora spp, at sites protected from wave action, and at locations with sand and gravel substrates. These results suggest that mangrove replanting success on Manus Island can be improved by preselecting sites and restricting plantings to Rhizophora spp.

 

Integrated conservation of bee pollinators of a rare plant in a protected area near Bologna, Italy
Bortolotti L., Bogo G., de Manincor N., Fisogni A. & Galloni M. (2016), 13, 51-56

An integrated approach was proposed for the conservation of the bee pollinators of the locally rare plant dittany Dictamnus albus. Based on previous studies that revealed the most efficient pollinators, we performed three related actions to improve their presence in the area: (i) we provided artificial nests for bumblebees and solitary bees; (ii) we added bee plants to support local populations of pollinators throughout their life cycle, and (iii) we reared and released bumblebee colonies from wild queens collected in the area. Artificial nests were occupied at high rates by cavity nesting species such as mason bees, leafcutter bees and carpenter bees, while we did not observe any ground nesting bees. Artificial nests for bumblebees did not attract any wild queens. The bee plants established at different rates: transplanted adult individuals survived better than seeds directly sown at the site. In three consecutive years we reared and released several colonies of buff-tailed bumblebees, which survived through the flowering season but only one developed new gynes.

 

This study describes a modified mowing regime that allowed green-winged orchids Anacamptis morio, discovered in 1985 on coastal grassland on a rifle range on the Sefton Coast, Merseyside, to flower and set seed. A delay in spring/summer mowing until 15 July each year led to a progressive increase in the population to a total of nearly 32,000 flower spikes by 2016, while adjacent ranges managed by regular mowing showed no such increase.

 

Bromeliad translocation in Atlantic Forest fragments, Brazil
Melo T.S., Benati K.R., Peres M.C.L., Tinôco M.S., de Andrade A.R.S & Dias Alves M. (2016), 13, 88-92

Habitat loss and fragmentation have negative impacts on the environment, reducing the habitat available to species. In order to minimize these effects we need strategies to enhance the value of refuge areas. Bromeliads are important microhabitats for many taxa during certain stages of their life cycles, and can potentially be readily transplanted. In this study we transplanted terrestrial bromeliads to test their capacity to survive the transplantation procedure over time, and assess whether they are able to maintain their arthropod communities. The experiment was performed between two Atlantic Forest fragments with bromeliads of the genus Hohenbergia. We transplanted 66 plants and monitored them over three years. We assessed plant survival and reproduction as measures of transplantation success, and made comparisons among arthropod communities to evaluate faunal maintenance post-transplantation. All the bromeliads survived the transplantation over the four-year study and conserved their arthropod community. Therefore we recommend this technique as a method for enhancing the value of fragmented habitats, because it both maintains the bromeliad fauna and aids conservation of endangered bromeliads species in the face of environmental change.

 

Where sufficient seeds of a rare plant species are available, out-planting small populations may be an effective conservation practice, given certain rare species persist naturally as small populations, sometimes within metapopulations. I investigated the feasibility of out-planting small populations of the rare and declining fen plant spreading globeflower Trollius laxus, which is easily grown in greenhouse and garden settings. In 2004 greenhouse-raised seedlings were planted at 14 plots (n = 10 plants per plot) located within a protected area where a well-studied metapopoulation of T. laxus already occurred. Suitable plots were identified using a GIS-based, macroscale habitat model; seven were under canopy gaps and seven were under intact canopy. The populations were monitored one, two, three and eight years after out-planting. Two plots that were lost less than one year after out-planting were not included in subsequent monitoring and analysis. I compared survival between gap and non-gap populations and quantified the vigour of the surviving plants over time. Overall, survival was very poor (only 10 of the original 120 transplants survived to year eight), but surviving plants were vigorous, showing increases in size and flower production. Plant survival to year three was significantly greater under canopy gaps than intact canopy. These results suggest that out-planting T. laxus at new sites may be difficult, that success will be greater under canopy gaps than intact canopy, and that out-planted populations may need regular supplementation with new transplants in order to be viable over the long-term.

Spanish catchfly Silene otites (L.) Wibel is an endangered plant declining in its UK stronghold of the Breckland. At Cranwich Camp, Norfolk, UK, formerly an important site for the plant, an area was stripped of turf to stimulate germination to attempt to revive the population. This led to significant colonisation of the area, with over 2,900 Spanish catchfly plants present on the experimental site three years after the management was carried out. These may have derived either from incoming seed or seed lying dormant beneath the turf and have begun to restore the population to its former high levels.

Broad-leaved cudweed Filago pyramidata is a UK Red List, Endangered plant with only seven extant sites. The most important of these is Ranscombe Farm, now a reserve managed by Plantlife. From 2005 onwards, Plantlife extended targeted cultivation for broad-leaved cudweed across existing arable land with the support of Natural England’s Environmental Stewardship scheme. This led to the appearance and rapid spread of broad-leaved cudweed in new locations on the site and a population increase from a previous estimate of 60,000 to more than 3,000,000 plants.

 

This paper describes the results of a translocation rescue of the British endemic Isle of Man cabbage Coincya monensis ssp. monensis from a sand-dune ridge at Crosby, Merseyside, which was about to be excavated as a source of sand for a coastal protection scheme at nearby Hightown. Using methods developed during a 1992 translocation, over eight hundred 1st year plants, together with seed-pods, were moved by volunteers to two protected receptor sites at Crosby and Birkdale in August 2011. Monitoring the following summer located small surviving populations at the receptor sites but mortality of transplants appeared to be over 90%, seed germination and establishment contributing most individuals. Low success at Crosby seemed partly attributable to winter sand-blow and heavy public pressure, while vegetation overgrowth may have been an adverse factor at Birkdale. An unexpected finding was that the original Crosby colony survived the removal of most of its habitat, about 1300 plants being counted in 2012 on the levelled dune area. More than half were small seedlings, presumably derived from buried seed. Also, 234 Isle of Man cabbage plants were discovered on the new coastal defence bund at Hightown, having arisen from propagules transported from Crosby. Other known Sefton duneland colonies at Southport Marine Lake and Blundellsands were also monitored, the former having apparently declined to extinction.

Many plant species require habitat disturbance and are therefore tolerant of low-level, anthropogenic disturbance, such as that created by traditional farming practices. Where such practices have declined, conservation management often includes artificial disturbance as a substitute.  Nationally important populations of rare plants associated with temporary pools and disturbed trackways had declined at Windmill Farm Nature Reserve on the Lizard Pensinsula in Cornwall (England). In light of the historic records for these plants, the presence of a seedbank in the soil was assumed, and was confirmed as likely when the deliberate disturbance of a trackway in 2004 was followed by germination of two rare plant species (Pigmy Rush Juncus pygmaeus and Yellow Centaury Cicendia filiformis). As a result, the adjacent very overgrown trackway was more fully excavated in 2009. Within eighteen months of management, both these species and two other characteristic plants of temporary pools (Pillwort Pilularia globulifera, Three-lobed Crowfoot Ranunculus tripartitus) germinated and re-established on the excavated site.  The existence of the historic records, together with surveys in both 2002/3 and 2010/11, enabled robust pre- and post-monitoring of the impact of the conservation management. The work shows that excavation has the potential to promote rapidly the recovery of plants associated with disturbance, with the greatest chance of positive results likely to occur when restoration exploits an existing soil seedbank.

In the UK, shrubby sea-blite Suaeda vera is a Nationally Scarce species restricted to coastal localities in eastern and southern England. It is locally common on the tidal face of sea wall flood defences in Essex. However, its dense bushy growth makes the engineering inspection of these important defences by the Environment Agency (the government agency responsible for flood defence maintenance) difficult. In consultation with Natural England it was agreed that S. vera could be flailed (cut) to a height of 30 cm along a 2.8 km length of sea wall in Essex to ease inspection, and as a trial to assess S. vera response to such cutting.  The response three months after cutting was encouraging with 94% of cut plants showing signs of regrowth. Eight months after cutting the mean height of the cut shrubs (79.7 cm) was about equivalent to that of uncut S. vera (82.1 cm) in a nearby uncut area (of similar height prior to cutting), indicating good vertical growth after flailing. However, the mean width of the cut shrubs (115.8 cm) was less than that of the uncut plants (177.4 cm). This is attributed to the cutting method (using a side-arm flail which reduced plant width in places, as well as removing the often broader, mid-crown growth), which coincidentally further eased inspection. These short-term results suggest that a one-off cut of S. vera can be used to allow sea wall inspection without detrimental damage to S. vera populations.

As one of the most commercially valuable and commonly used rattan palms in the furniture- making industry, populations of manau rattan Calamus manan have severely declined throughout their Southeast Asian range due to unsustainable harvest of wild plants, exacerbated by habitat loss due to deforestation. Surveys conducted in Sumatra in forest in 2003 and 2004 highlighted how rare the species had become. In March 2006, a total of 670 nursery-grown seedlings (1.5 and 2.5 years old) were planted out in formerly occupied areas of Bukit Duabelas National Park (Sumatra). Three sites were chosen representing three habitat types: hill forest, riverside forest, and a rubber Hevea brasiliensis plantation within a valley. Survival after 16 months was highest in the plantation (44%), followed by the hill forest site (33%) and riverside site (22%). Seedling growth (height increase) was somewhat variable but overall, was best for those planted in the plantation (average initial height 45 cm, increasing to 100 cm at 16 months). Longer term monitoring of survival and growth is required to assess if transplanting into the wild is a viable conservation management intervention.

In order to design a micropropagation protocol for Caracas walnut Juglans venezuelensis (a critically endangered Venezuelan endemic), morphogenesis studies were performed based on different explants. The explants were cultivated in mediums with different combinations of growth regulators under various conditions of light and darkness. Using nodal and apical segments, aerial sprouts developed when using Thidiazuron (TDZ) with concentrations of 0.3, 1.2 and 3.0 mg/l, and Benzilamine Purine (BA) with concentrations ranging from 0.2 to 1.5 mg/l. Microshoots with a lateral bud, cultivated in a medium complemented with Indole Butyric acid (IBA) (0.01 and 0.05 mg/l) + BA (1.0 mg/l) and TDZ (0.01 and 0.02 mg/l), also developed aerial sprouts (later transferred to another cultivation medium to promote root growth). In addition, starting from foliar explants in a medium complemented with Kinetin (Kin) (1.0 mg/l) combined with Naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) (0.1 mg/l), somatic embryos were developed in globular and torpedo stages, as well as thick radical structures and several radical hairs. The formation of new sprouts, followed by rooting and the conversion from embryos to plants is a key factor yet to be achieved in order to produce stock for incorporation into reforestation programmes.


Star cactus Astrophytum asterias is listed endangered in the USA.  The few known extant populations are located in Starr County, Texas and adjacent north Mexican states. According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service A. asterias recovery plan, reintroduction is an acceptable step in recovery of this species.  This paper reports on a pilot A. asterias reintroduction program.  Seeds and seedlings (2¼ and 2¾ years of age) were planted in the spring and autumn of 2007.  Of the seeds sown (120 each in spring and autumn), less than 4% grew to produce seedlings (five from the spring planting and four from the autumn planting).  After a monitoring period of 14 months, spring- and autumn-planted seedling survival was 55.0% and 72.5%, respectively. Mean diameter of the surviving spring-planted seedlings (n = 66) increased from 8.9 (± 1.6) mm at planting to 10.4 (± 2.0) mm. Mean diameter of surviving autumn-planted seedlings (n = 87) increased from 9.4 (± 2.0) mm to 11.3 (± 2.6) mm. Based upon these results, for A. asterias reintroduction purposes transplanting nursery reared seedlings appears a better strategy than sowing of seeds directly into the wild.

A protocol for micropropagation of the medicinally important plant Premna serratifolia was developed due to its increasing rarity as a result of over-exploitation and poor natural regeneration within its range of occurrence in the Indian sub-continent. Plantlets were regenerated through shoot tip explants. Shoot tip explants were cultured on different media (MS, SH, Y3 and B5). Anti-oxidants (activated charcoal, citric acid, polyvinylpyrrolidone) and the effect of seasonal changes (through out the year) were analyzed for reducing explant browning and better shoot multiplication. The highest number of shoots was developed from MS medium supplemented with BAP (3.0 mg/l), IAA (0.5 mg/l) and activated charcoal (10.0 mg/l) between November and March. Best rooting was achieved from the medium supplemented with NAA (1.0 mg/l). Complete regeneration was achieved in about 21 days. The plantlets, thus developed were maintained under controlled conditions in the green house for 40 days. They were then planted out into a nursery where growth has been good and survival, up to 1 year, has been high (95%).

The endemic plant Impatiens gordonii (Balsaminaceae) is one of the most threatened plants in the Seychelles; it is known from a small number of localities on the islands of Mah© and Silhouette. There have been a number of attempts to establish a new population on Silhouette. Between 2001 and 2005, five seedlings and 54 rooting stems were planted at several points in one main field site. Although 11 plantings survived for over three months, all but one died within 2 years. That single plant has now survived for 10 years and has produced two seedlings. Problems with establishment were identified as being vulnerable to desiccation and rot, requiring high light levels but not full exposure to sunlight, and vulnerability to invertebrate herbivory (snails, caterpillars and crickets).

Small cow-wheat Melampyrum sylvaticum, a nationally scarce annual identified as a priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, was the focus of a translocation attempt aiming to establish new populations within the extent of its former Scottish range. Seeds were collected (from wild Scottish
populations) in three phases (in the years 2005, 2006 and 2008) and sown at six receptor sites where the species was absent but habitat seemed suitable. Each phase used increasing numbers of seed after the results of the first phase (89 to 103 seeds sown per site) suggested that many more than 100 seeds are needed to establish the species (at least in the short-term) at a site. Comparisons of the suitability of seed from three different wild populations showed that one resulted in higher germination rates. This donor population was associated with environmental conditions more similar to those at the receptor sites than those of the other donors. Receptor sites also differed in their suitability; those that were climatically and edaphically more similar to sites supporting wild populations appear to be more favourable to M.sylvaticum longer-term survival. Together, these can be seen to suggest that future seed translocation should be to sites that are ecologically similar to the donor population and within sites that fall into the cooler and wetter range of environmental conditions currently supporting Scottish populations of M.sylvaticum.

In the Aravali hills of Rajahstan (northwest India), community-based approaches were followed to conserve Commiphora wightii, an endangered medicinal plant. Efforts were made to increase the effectiveness of wildlife conservation projects in the rural and tribal area of Aravali by promoting community participation through a C.wightii propagation and planting scheme, and education programs. Local communities participated and responded very positively to the initiatives. Approximately3,500, 3-month old Commiphora plantlets (each about 30 cm tall) propagated via cuttings, were planted out into their natural habitat.

 

The critically endangered Christmas orchid Masdevallia tovarensis is endemic to cloud forest within the state of Aragua (Colonia Tovar) northern Venezuela. Its propagation has been little studied, particularly regarding in vitro cultivation techniques. In an attempt to asymbiotically and sexually micropropagate this autochthonous species, seeds were used from indehiscent capsules obtained from nurseries in the vicinity of areas where this orchid naturally occurs. The effect of Murashige and Skoog nutrition medium, and different concentrations of thidiazuron, benzyladenine (BA) and naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) on seed germination were evaluated. In vitro asymbiotic germination was characterized by initial swelling of seeds, increase of embryo size and formation of protocorm-like bodies (PLBs), similar to those naturally generated during symbiotic germination. After three months, the PLBs started to sprout leaves and roots to form seedlings. In all treatments, the formation of PLBs was observed, although in higher number when using the combination BA (2.0 mg/l) + NAA (1.5 mg/l). A protocol was obtained that will enable mass propagation by means of asymbiotic germination of seeds in vitro.

To assist in the conservation of Commiphora wightii (an endangered medicinal tree),experiments were undertaken to develop an efficient, rapid and inexpensive method for large scale propagation. Two methods were trialed, propagation by stem cuttings and in vitro tissue culture. Propagation by the stem cutting method was found to be both more successful and produced plants of a suitable size for transplanting more rapidly than in vitro cultivation.Stem cutting propagation was also inexpensive and easier to perform, as compared to in vitro propagation. The cost to produce a plant of suitable size for transplanting was 3 Indian Rupees (INR) using the stem cutting method and 80 INR by the in vitro method.

Commiphora wightii is an endangered tree of arid and semi-arid tracts of northern Africa to northwest India. It is an important medicinal plant well-known for its oleo-gum-resin with cholesterol reducing properties. However, it has been over-exploited such that it is on the verge of extinction in the Indian part of its range. The present study reports the use of tissue culture as a viable alternative to propagation via stem cuttings as well as seedlings for conservation of this valuable plant. The work presented describes the development of two tissue culture based pathways for plant production, their acclimatization and successful field transfer. Plants derived from in vitro propagation have been growing well under field conditions for over three years (April 2007 to August 2010). Flowering and fruiting has taken place, as would be expected in similarly sized wild plants, and plants have exhibited a good rate of growth.

The initiative has proven cost-effective in terms of producing plants from culture initiation stage to a hardened plant of size suitable for transplanting into the field; the cost of a single plant produced through a somatic embryogenesis pathway was about Indian Rupees (INR) 19 (equivalent to Pound Sterling (GBP) 0.26), while that produced through a cotyledonary node based protocol was INR 27 (GBP 0.37). The study clearly indicates the applicability and benefits of using tissue culture technology to assist in conservation of C. wightii.

Scrub clearance was undertaken on calcareous grassland along a roadside verge at Norton Heath in Essex. The site was fenced to prevent grazing by rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus. After scrub clearance, the number of bee orchid Ophrys apifera basal leaf rosettes was counted in a 3 x 3 m area where the soil was disturbed by turning over manually with a fork, and in an adjacent control which had no soil disturbance.  A total of 29 basal rosettes of O.apifera were noted in the disturbed area in the first spring after clearance, contrasting with only seven rosettes in the undisturbed control plot.  These results suggest that it may therefore be beneficial to create scrapes to encourage the establishment of O.apifera and also a range of other calcareous grassland plants.

 

Scalesia affinis is a threatened shrub endemic to the Galapagos archipelago. Its population on the island of Santa Cruz is critically endangered, with only 71 adult plants known. The future of these individuals is unclear due to imminent development of land surrounding the largest population. This paper reports on a project to establish a new population of S.affinis on Santa Cruz within its historical native range from plants grown ex situ. As the plant is known to be self-incompatible, cross pollination was carried out in the wild to try and augment viable seed production. Average seed viability from 22 artificial crosses was 0.58 (SE ± 0.043), a level similar to naturally produced seeds. Survivorship from germination was low, with only 17% of plants surviving to three months post germination. Survival following transplanting out in the wild was also low, with just 19% of plants (11 out of 57) alive after one year. The relative roles of genetic and environmental factors are discussed in relation to these results.

Variation in plant species composition, abundance of seeds in the soil seed bank and standing vegetation, over the course of a post-fire succession was investigated in coastal Calluna-heathlands in Western Norway. Vegetation and seed banks were analysed over a 24-year post-fire period. The total diversity of vegetation and seed bank were 60 and 54 vascular plant taxa respectively (39 shared species), resulting in 68% similarity. Over the 24 years the heathland community progressed from open newly-burnt ground via species rich graminoid- and herb-dominated vegetation to mature heather Calluna vulgaris-dominated heath. This post-fire succession was not reflected in the seed bank; the 10 most abundant species constituted 98% of the germinated seeds. The most abundant were Calluna (49%; 12,018 seeds/m2) and cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix (34%; 8,414 seeds/m2). Calluna showed significantly higher germination in the two first years following burning. Vegetation species richness (ranging 23 to 46 species/yr) was highest in the middle years of the post-fire succession period. In contrast, the seed bank species richness (21 to 31 species/yr) showed no trend. This suggests that the seed bank act as a refuge, providing a source of recruits for many species that colonize newly-burnt areas. The traditional management regime has not depleted or destroyed the seed banks, and continuing management is necessary to ensure perpetuation of the heathlands.

Sickle-leaved hare's-ear Bupleurum falcatum subsp. falcatum is an umbellifer that has a very limited distribution (currently one native locality) in the UK. Seeds (1,200) were collected from the single wild population in Essex (southeast England) and propagated using conventional techniques over the winter of 2007/08. A high proportion germinated (859; 71%) but 93% of the seedlings subsequently died in the spring and summer of 2008. The 57 young plants that survived were planted out at the donor site in January 2009, established well (all but one alive in July 2009) and competed strongly with other species already present. All grew well, all flowered and some produced seed. Growth was similar to that of plants in the nearby established colony.

An experimental hay mowing and scrub clearance regime was introduced to Perryfield Lane - a 'green lane' site (i.e. a double hedged unsurfaced track) in Norwood End, Essex (England), with the aim of increasing floristic species richness. After two years of management, the floristic species richness doubled on the grassy verges of the lane, a smaller increase in the number of plant species was noted for the central track, which is used by (occasional) motorised vehicles due to the legal status of the lane as a public byway. Plants that benefited from hay mowing and scrub clearance included unimproved grassland indicator species such as black knapweed Centaurea nigra, hairy St. John's-wort Hypericum hirsutum and primrose Primula vulgaris. There were substantial reductions in bramble Rubus fruticosus agg. and blackthorn Prunus spinosa achieved, thereby preventing their encroachment and smothering of the remnant grassland flora.

An experimental early-spring scrub clearance regime was introduced in 2008 to Coleman's Lane, a 'green lane' site (i.e. a double hedged, unsurfaced track) in Essex, southeast England, with the aim of increasing floristic species richness. A year after scrub clearance, floristic species richness was higher on both grassy verges either side (average 5.6 species/quadrat) and central track (4.3 species) of the green lane, compared with that recorded a year prior to clearance (4.2 and 2.8 species respectively). Plant species that especially benefited from scrub clearance included cow parsley Anthriscus sylvestris and red dead nettle Lamium purpureum.  New species recorded in 2009 included bush vetch Vicia sepium, sweet violet Viola odorata and wood anemone Anemone nemorosa. There were substantial reductions in bramble Rubus fruticosus and cleavers Galium aparine achieved. Further clearance is planned for winter 2009-10, and subsequently on a 2-3 year rotation.

Cutting, removal and herbicide stump-treatment of dense grey willow Salix cinerea scrub from a 1 ha wet dune-slack was undertaken in a northwest England National Nature Reserve. This resulted, over the next two years, in colonisation by 139 vascular plant taxa. Of these, 11 are nationally or regionally notable, with 28 being new reserve records. The high proportion of ruderal plants in the first year was largely replaced by dune species in the second season after scrub removal.

 

To mitigate for loss of a dyke supporting a population of the nationally rare grass-wrack pondweed Potamogeton compressus due to be infilled during flood defence works, a new section of dyke was excavated. Grass-wrack pondweed turions were collected prior to infilling of the old dyke and grown on, both indoors and outdoors, for transplanting into the new dyke once completed. The pondweed was also present within adjoining dykes potentially at risk to increased turbidity/siltation and/or water pollution, plus hydrological changes during construction works. Therefore, to reduce these risks, measures were implemented, including bunding of internal dykes and installation of 'silt curtains' to minimise such impacts. Finally, as the old dyke was infilled, the majority of the green material was removed by hand using grapnels, and sections of silt (including turions) where the plant was growing were sequentially removed mechanically and placed into the adjacent new length of replacement dyke. Monitoring of the new dyke in 2007 and 2008 (one and two years after creation) indicated successful grass-wrack pondweed establishment; in 2007 it was the dominant taxa. In 2008 its density was lower, however cover of other aquatic species had significantly increased. The results are consistent with those of another translocation, where good populations were present during the first 2-3 years of establishment, with populations tailing off as the new habitat is colonised i.e. the species is considered a primary coloniser.

 

During attempted habitat restoration on Round Island, in response to plants being lost during revegetation attempts due to burrowing activities of nesting wedge-tailed shearwater Puffinus pacificus, plant cages were developed to enhance plant survival. With modification, the cages also had additional benefits including reduction of damage due to salt spray and wind. Wedge-tailed shearwater continue to exploit areas undergoing vegetation restoration.

In an attempt to protect the nationally rare red helleborine Cephalanthera rubra from herbivory by slugs and snails during the growing season, copper rings were placed over emerging shoots in the spring and summer. Subsequent monitoring revealed that there was no evidence of any slug damage to plants protected by such rings.

 

In order to establish if wild asparagus Asparagus prostratus fruit-set is limited by pollination, experiments were undertaken to compare natural insect pollination with hand pollination at four colonies (one in west Wales and three in Cornwall, south-west England). Hand pollination was successful in increasing fruit-set relative to natural pollination in three of the four populations. Overall, hand pollination resulted in a 4.5-fold higher fruit-set (54 fruits) compared to fruit-set of naturally pollinated plants (12 fruits).

Hand pollination of an isolated female wild asparagus Asparagus prostratus plant using pollen taken from males in two distant colonies proved successful with 44 berries (73% overall pollination success rate) producing 92 seeds. The subsequent germination of the planted seeds the following spring was high (90%). A re-introduction project using these propagated plants is likely to be carried out in suitable habitat close to the female plant in 2008.

In 2007 and in previous years, as part of ongoing attempts to improve red helleborine Cephalanthera rubra seed-set, hand pollination of florets has been undertaken at a small colony of this species in Buckinghamshire, southern England. Natural pollination rarely occurs (one mature pod recorded in 10 years) at this site. In 2007, hand pollination resulted in the production of four seed pods, of which one withered and died. Upon ripening, the three remaining pods were removed for attempted micropropagation of the seeds. Ongoing conservation management has probably benefited the solitary bee Chelostoma campanularum which now appears fairly plentiful at the site, but despite the presence of this red helleborine flower visitor, natural pollination remains virtually unrecorded at this locality; field observations suggest that C.campanularum is in fact probably not large enough to act as an effective red helleborine pollinator as it can slip in and out of the flowers without removing the pollinia, unlike it larger relative C.fuliginosum, absent from the UK but which is a known pollinator of red helleborine in continental Europe.

The endemic subspecies of perennial knawel Scleranthus perennis ssp. prostratus is found only in the Breckland area of eastern England. Here it was restricted to north Suffolk, having been extirpated from all know Norfolk sites. In the mid 1990s an attempt was made to reintroduce it to one of its old Norfolk sites. Through a combination of transplanting locally cultivated plants, seed sowing, grazing, and occasional soil disturbance management. By 2005 perennial knawel had become well established and the introduction appears to have been very successful.

 

The endemic subspecies of perennial knawel Scleranthus perennis ssp. prostratus, is found only in the Breckland area of eastern England. Due to marked recent declines, an attempt was made to reintroduce it to a 'conservation path' in the county of Suffolk. Plants were introduced and seeds sown in what appeared suitable areas. Members of the public visiting the site have provide sufficient soil disturbance to ensure the ground is suitably bare for establishment of new seedlings with little additional management required except occasional removal of encroaching heather Calluna vulgaris. To date, the reintroduction has been successful.

 

The endemic subspecies of perennial knawel Scleranthus perennis prostratus, is found only in the Breckland area of eastern England. Due to marked recent declines, an attempt was made to reintroduce it to a site known to have historically supported the species in the county of Suffolk. Habitat conditions appeared suitable to support it. Locally cultivated plants were transplanted in the spring, but probably due to summer drought, all died. A second attempt the following year also failed, it is suspected due to a large increase in rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus numbers with many perennial knawel plants appearing to have been scuffed up by their digging activies.

 

The endemic subspecies of perennial knawel Scleranthus perennis ssp. prostratus, is found only in the Breckland area of eastern England. Due to marked recent declines, an attempt was made to reintroduce it to a site known to have historically supported the species in the county of Suffolk. A total of 45 flowering perennial knawel plants cultivated locally, were transplanted in spring to this sheep-grazed site. A year after planting all the transplants had died and no seedlings were observed. The following spring a further 84 adult plants were transplanted, but again all had died by the following year and no seedlings were present. It is thought that sheep-grazing was not intensive enough to keep surrounding vegetation short enough and to keep the ground sufficiently bare to enable successful establishment and germination.

The endemic subspecies of perennial knawel Scleranthus perennis prostratus is found only in the Breckland area of eastern England. Due to marked recent declines, an attempt was made to reintroduce it to a former site in the county of Suffolk. Eighty seedlings were planted in a ploughed plot and well-watered in. Some plants were initially scuffed out by rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus, but steadily numbers increased over the subsequent two years to 240 plants. However, over the next three years numbers fell to only six individuals. It is thought that too much grazing and digging up of the plants by rabbits occurred in these latter years.

The endemic subspecies of perennial knawel Scleranthus perennis prostratus is a declining plant found only in the Breckland area of eastern England. In 1992, at a locality where perennial knawel had been recorded in 1985, the ground was disturbed using a vibrating subsoiler. As a result of this soil disturbance, in 1994 two plants appeared. From seeds of these plants, seedlings were propagated and transplanted. After initial success the population dwindled and none were observed in 2005, additional mature plants were therefore planted. It is believed that the basic soil pH (7.5) and herbicide drift from neighbouring fields has been deleterious to the site and reduced habitat suitability for perennial knawel.

The endemic subspecies of perennial knawel Scleranthus perennis prostratus is a declining plant found only in the Breckland area of eastern England. In 1978, a population of 1,670 individuals was recorded in a small 6.8 ha patch of heathland. In 1994, a survey found only 32 mature plants. In an attempt to enhance habitat conditions, old furrows were re-ploughed and sheep-grazing introduced to break up the ground and reinstate patches of bare ground suitable for germination and seedling growth. As a consequence of management, and also rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus grazing, the perennial knawel population increased, by 2000 several thousand plants were recorded. An experimental exclosure showed that in the absence of sheep and rabbit grazing, and period disturbance management, the perennial knawel died out.

The endemic subspecies of perennial knawel Scleranthus perennis ssp. prostratus is a declining plant found only in the Breckland area of eastern England. In a small 3 ha patch of heathland, in1974 approximately 1,000 perennial knawel plants were recorded. Although numbers fell to very low levels, a combination and refinement of management techniques including periodic rotovation and ground scarification appears to be maintaining a reasonable perennial knawel population.

The endemic subspecies of perennial knawel Scleranthus perennis prostratus is a declining plant found only in the Breckland area of eastern England. At a site in north Suffolk in the early 1980s the plant was found to be thriving. Regular mowing and consistent small-scale ground disturbance at this site has proved perhaps the ideal management regime for the species.

Wetland depressions in coastal shingle at a site in southeast England the 'Open Pits', once had a Carex-rich marsh vegetation, which included many locally scarce species, but following lowered water levels and increasing willow Salix scrub invasion, much of this community disappeared. Scrub removal and summer sheep grazing was introduced in 1997. Seven scarce wetland species reappeared and another two previously unrecorded species of conservation interest colonised.

 

In a Caledonian pine forest in the Scottish Highlands, the effects of cutting and burning on fungal fruiting differed between species, and especially between mycorrhizal and decomposer species. Mycorrhizal species seem to fruit more abundantly in cut or burned areas, whereas fewer decomposers fruit under these treatments. This suggests that burning or cutting small areas could help increase fruiting fungi diversity, but that it should probably be avoided in areas where important litter decomposer species occur. Most fruiting records were from control plots, there was just over a 50% decline in the number of fungal fruit bodies in the burnt and cut plots.

A long term monitoring scheme was established to examine the mortality rate of sessile oak Quercus robur trees in an even aged forest. Of 1,835 marked trees, only 15 died in the six years of the study. It is suggested that large samples (2,000-5,000 indivivdual trees) may be required to ensure meaningful results from such studies.

 

In an attempt to increase distribution of common cow-wheat Melampyrum pratense, turves containing cow-wheat were transplanted in April and May, and seeds were sown in July. Both methods resulted in only a few seedlings maturing to adults with some seed set but neither produced viable populations. Cow-wheat is a hemiparasite but both the host species and the ectomycorrhizal fungus requirements are unknown, and it may be that the appropriate hosts were absent.

Dredging the silt from two old ponds in southern England (one in which the nationally endangered starfruit Damasonium alisma had recently been rediscovered) resulted in dramatic initial results, with many starfruit plants appearing. A subsequent rapid fall off in numbers suggests that seeds appear to germinate best on exposed sediment on drying margins and continuous low-level disturbance management is probably desirable.

In the Highlands of Scotland, low intensity burning would appear to be an effective way to encourage Scots pine Pinus sylvestris regeneration. As well as opening up the ground allowing seedlings to grow, low to moderate burns had no major impact on ectomycorrhizal communities; without a healthy ectomycorrhizal community pine seedlings struggle to become established.