Orchid Habitat Restoration and Preservation 

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 recently become involved in several orchid field projects.

The first project involves long-term monitoring of two populations of orchids 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 towardjcheck100.jpg  the continuation of several in situ orchid conservation projects in West Virginia. This donation represents the NOC's commitment to the 1% For Orchid Conservation (1% FOC) program initiated in 2006. Last year the NOC contributed $50 to the Florida Panther Refuge to help with laboratory supplies.

Katharine Gregg
Dr. Katharine Gregg, Professor of Biology, West Virginia Wesleyan College
photo by Julie Powelson