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Status assessment and conservation of rare Liveforever (Dudleya) taxa affected by the Woolsey Fire

Project Dates

2020 - 2023

Summary

The Santa Monica Mountains (SMM) are a hot spot for Liveforever (genus Dudleya) taxonomic diversity with 14 currently accepted taxa occurring in this region. Five of the SMM taxa are state or federally listed: canyon liveforever (D. cymosa subsp. agourensis), marcescent dudleya (D. cymosa subsp. marcescens), Santa Monica Mountains dudleya (D. cymosa subsp. ovatifolia), Conejo dudleya (D. parva), and Verity’s liveforever (Dudleya verityi). The 2018 Woolsey Fire burned throughout the area where some of these rare liveforever taxa occur with unknown but potentially severe effects. The first objective of this project was to obtain an accurate assessment of the status of these endemic SMM liveforever taxa that may have been affected by the Woolsey Fire. Canyon liveforever was seemingly unaffected by the fire and appeared numerically stable, while occurrences of the other four taxa had fire impacts that varied from low to severe. Other threats were also detected and quantified, including erosion, trampling, nonnative plants, poaching, hybridization, and stream scour. During these surveys, fire-affected plants were rescued, tissues were collected for genetic analyses, and conservation seed collections were created. Current work is happening to propagate plants, assess genetic differences between taxa, and devise restoration strategies for plants associated with bryophytes and lichens. At the end of this project, rescued and propagated individuals will be planted back into the wild.

Goals

Conserve and restore rare SMM liveforever taxa

Report: Dudleya Survey Report

Team Members

Matt Guilliams, Ph.D.

Kristen Lehman, Ph.D.

Susana Delgadillo

Jackie Khanna

Alejandro Cisneros Lopez

Isabel Rivera

Caitlin Hazelquist

Emily Thomas

Sean Carson

Kevin Mason

Heather Schneider, Ph.D.

Partners

Mark Elvin (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Ken Niessen (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Ben Carter, Ph.D. (San Jose State University)

Mark Mendelsohn (Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area)

Danielle LeFer, Ph.D. (California State Parks)

Tarja Sagar (National Park Service, retired)

Stephen McCabe (University of California, Santa Cruz, retired)

Funders

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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