Individual study: Conservation of the critically endangered Bakersfield saltbush Atriplex tularensis, Kern Lake Preserve, California, USA
Freas K.E. & Murphy D.D. (1988) Taxonomy and the conservation of the critically endangered Bakersfield saltbush, Atriplex tularensis. Biological Conservation, 46, 317-324
The Bakersfield saltbush Atriplex tularensis is a salt-tolerant, monoecious annual of an alkali plant community once widespread in southern San Joaquin Valley, California. Due to extensive conversion of habitat to agriculture, only a single population now persists at Kern Lake Preserve. In 1986, despite much rain and flooding (expected to favour germination and survival), only 89 seedlings were found and most died without setting seed. Seed bank status, germination requirements and artificial propagation were investigated to determine the most effective conservation strategy. Results of propagation trials are summarised here.
In June 1987, 13 poorly developed plants (<3 cm tall) insufficiently mature to be identified as A. tularensis or A. serenana (a widespread, closely related species) were discovered. Due to dryness of the soil it was unlikely that any would survive (eight already showing signs of senesce) therefore, they were transferred with soil to a greenhouse (Stanford University). Plants were watered daily, exposed to natural light, and a 14/10h light/dark schedule (under 'Gro Lux' bulbs). Temperatures were similar to field conditions (15-32°C).