Monitoring orchids for conservation in West Virginia text by Dr. Katharine Gregg
Julie Powelson photo by
Dr Katharine Gregg
Julie Powelson, an undergraduate
biology major from Shinnston, WV who is working
under the supervision of Dr. Katharine Gregg, Professor of Biology,
West Virginia Wesleyan College, has
become involved in several orchid field projects.
The first project involves long-term monitoring of two populations
that were grazed by deer some years ago. Careful monitoring of
damage and recovery helps us better understand the importance of
protecting critical orchid populations from herbivores.
A second project is monitoring orchids
seedling emergence and growth in a
natural population where seedling production has been fairly
constant in recent years. Observing where they come up relative to
mature flowering plants and microclimate and how likely and how long
they survive will help us better understand the requirements and
timeline of seedling development in the wild.
The third project is looking at prolonged, or adult, dormancy, a
little understood phenomenon that appears in many different species
of terrestrial orchids. This project is being investigated by
experimental bud removal and by excavation to see what is actually
going on underground when a plant does not send up an aerial shoot.
Understanding why plants remain underground and whether it is
beneficial or harmful should give us important information that will
help conserve and manage orchid populations at risk.
The Native Orchid Conference, Inc. (NOC) made a $100
donation toward the continuation of several in situ
conservation projects in West Virginia. This donation represents
the NOC's commitment to the 1% For Orchid Conservation (1%
program initiated in 2006. Last year the NOC
to the Florida Panther Refuge to help with laboratory supplies.
Dr. Katharine Gregg, Professor of Biology,
West Virginia Wesleyan College
photo by Julie Powelson