Hello, I am Andrea Pipp, the Botanist at the MTNHP.
For 31 years the mission of the Botany program has remained the same…to collect & maintain reliable & comprehensive information on Montana’s native botanical species.
Today I want to touch base and tell you how the Botany program is fulfilling its mission. Specifically I will give an overview on our botany data and address botanical projects.
This graph shows the number of data in our botany database from 2008 to 2016.
The green columns represent the number of observations for all botanical species, common and rare.
The Botany program continues to bring in data on all species, in order to better track which species are common and which are rare. Currently we have a back-log in data to report. That is, we have acquired more data then there is the labor available to get it into our database. We are continuously seeking ways to automate more of the data entry and to obtain funding to reduce out back-log.
The red columns are the number of occurrences for Species of Concern or Potential Species of Concern.
The blue columns are the number of species that are ranked as a Species of Concern or Potential Species of Concern.
Plants are categorized as common, Species of Concern, or as “Status Under Review”. Currently we have 335 plants categorized as Status Under Review. These plants either have a disputed State Rank, have newer information that has not been re-assessed, or have never been ranked.
Grants from the Department of Agriculture have allowed me to complete a Status review on 46 plants and is allowing me to currently review another 40 plants. To conduct a Status Review requires me to find and obtain observation data, such as from herbaria, agency databases, resource professionals, and literature. I also strive to find information to improve our Plant Field Guide. This includes writing better information on its identification, habitat, reproduction, threats, cultural uses, and bringing in photographs. Together, this information allows me to use NatureServe’s rank calculator and methodology to determine a current State Rank. To date, the project has brought in 795 observations, 68 photographs, expanded the profiles for 44 species, and removed 2 species from the State. By September 2017 the back-log in conducting status reviews will be reduced by 20%
Funding from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality has supported the need to develop Coefficient of Conservatism values for plants listed on the US Army Corps of Engineer’s Wetland Indicator lists.
Using a panel of expert botanists and ecologists and following a specific method, 1,623 plant species or varieties have been assigned a Coefficient of Conservatism value, which I will refer to as a C-value. About 948 plants in Montana still lack a C-value and these are primarily upland species. I am currently in search of a funding source to complete this work for Montana.
I want to take a few minutes to explain what a C-value is and how it can be relevant to the work that many of you do.
The C-value, is a number on a scale from 0-10, that reflects the plant’s tolerance to natural or manmade disturbance AND its affinity to a specific, unimpaired habitat. This number is specific to how the plant behaves in Montana. It is the basic unit of the Floristic Quality Assessment method.
C-values of 0-1 are assigned to exotics C-values of 2 are native plants that are habitat generalists and require human disturbance C-values 3-5 are native plants that require a more defined habitat and thrive or persist with disturbance C-values 6-10 are native plants that require very specific habitat and may or cannot tolerate disturbance.
Project sites that are more ecologically diverse or have plants that fill a greater number of niches will have on average higher C-values or a greater range of C-Values. Project sites that have are colonized by exotics and habitat generalist species will have on average lower C-values or a narrower range of C-values..
C-values are very useful for many types of projects.
At the project level, you can make your species list, and add to it their assigned C-value, and calculate some simple statistics.
These C-values statistics: -- Allows sites to be compared to determine which has better ecological quality. -- It quantifies baseline conditions before implementing restoration and to assess future change, -- Be used to creates an engineering design to select plant or seed species that represent a diversity C-values or higher C-values; thereby, helping to move your restoration to a place where it will support more species and provide more functions.
C-values are most beneficial when all of our Montana plants have an assigned a value. Again, I’m in search of funding to complete the project for the remaining 948, mostly upland plant species.
Howell’s Gumweed is a Species of Concern and US Forest Service Sensitive plant.
Howell’s Gumweed occurs in Missoula and Powell Counties of Montana and in Idaho. Many of you know its look-alike, curly-cup gumweed, which lacks the glandular hairs and occupies drier sites. Curly-cup and Howell’s gumweeds are distinct species, yet some populations are thought to be hybrids.
I am helping the USFS on a genetic study that is assess the genetic variability among populations, assess the relationship with curly-cup gumweed, Which assists in their land management decisions.
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality funded me to teach Wetland & Riparian plant identification classes. These classes are aimed at boosting people’s skills in the places they work.
Last June I conducted 3 field-based classes for beginners and those needing a refresher. For the 1st time, intermediate classes were taught in Bozeman and Missoula. These intermediate classes were very well received. Participants used microscopes to learn more than 35 wetland grasses, sedges, and rushes and came away from the class with a personal reference collection. We also spent time in the field studying a variety of other wetland plants.
Since 2010 the Heritage Program has taught Wetland & Riparian Plant Identification Classes that have mostly been funded by Montana DEQ & the EPA. This map shows where at least 30 classes have been taught to at least 450 participants. These are very popular, well-attended classes that fill a need for those working in wetland & riparian systems. Participants represent the broad spectrum of affiliations that work in our wetland and riparian systems: federal, state, county, tribal, academia, non-government agencies, Conservation Districts, Consultants, Non-Profits, and many other organizations.
In 2017 the MTDEQ will not have funding available to conduct these trainings. This is an opportunity for me to reach out to each of you and ask, what type of botanical trainings does your organization need? Well-organized trainings help maintain necessary skills and productive employees.
Over the years I’ve taught a wide variety of plant identification classes. Please think of me as a resource that can cater a class to the needs of your organization.
Biological Soil Crusts are mosses, lichens, cyanobacteria, liverworts, algae, fungi, and Bacteria.
As a complex, they ‘glue’ together soil particles. As a result these organisms reduce soil erosion and create a living ‘mulch’ that retains moisture and discourages cheatgrass. Biological soil crusts occupy the nutrient-poor zones between where individual vascular plants thrive. Collectively, they are an important component of the Greater Sage-Grouse habitat, and some lichens are an important food source for pronghorn. All contribute to the carbon cycle and some lichens and cyanobacteria contribute fixed nitrogen to the soil. Biological Soil Crusts are actively used to monitor rangeland condition and health. It is the type of crust and its structure that indicates a site’s disturbance history, productivity, and ecological integrity.
An opportunity to create a pilot study to inventory Biological Soil Crusts came about through funding from the Montana Native Plant Society, Milton Ranch, and Bureau of Land Management. Last September, a team of lichenologists, bryologists, and botanists met at the Milton Ranch outside of Roundup.
This pilot study accomplished a lot: 1ST we showed quite well that mosses and lichens do exist in Mussellshell County! Specimens are being curated and will be housed at the University of Montana herbarium while the data will be housed in our database. We also conducted the ‘Ground layer Indicator’ method. This method captures information on the amount, type, and structure of the crust without paying attention to the species. This data provides information on biomass, carbon content, nitrogen content, and other ecological attributes to determine what ecological functions are present and which are lacking. Surveys were conducted near to where Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has plots for their Greater Sage-Grouse Grazing Study and near to transects used by the BLM and Milton Ranch to monitor livestock grazing. Both vegetation projects collect some very course biological soil crust data and our work will add a list of species and information on the crust is performing ecologically.
Because biological soil crusts are useful for monitoring rangeland health, I will continue to pursue these efforts.
This summer monitoring of Spalding’s Catchfly was put on hold due to lack of funding. I am working with a variety of folks and feel hopeful that funding can be found to this important monitoring. Last April I completed an extensive analysis of Water Howellia in Montana for the Swan Ecosystem Center and US Forest Service. The Heritage program has modelled predictive suitable habitat for Ute Ladies’-Tresses, and I will be pursuing funding to survey potential habitat on private land.
In a little over a year’s time we have made big improvements to the Moss Field Guide.
Dr. Joe Elliott and I are revising the 1993 Moss Checklist, which now lists 511 species. We hope to have this published by February.
The MTNHP database for mosses includes 423 species using old nomenclature. I am working to update our database.
Currently we have completed species profiles for 395 mosses, of which 84 also have photographs.
Funding for this project came about when our Zoologist position was vacant. This work was completed by my Botany Assistant. My goal is to bring in enough funds to keep her going because it helps us accomplish tasks.
Lichens: Last winter an intern made great progress in updating our lichen database. That work has been put on hold until we can find funding and have the labor to complete the work. Stay tuned because changes are coming.
Last year I reported on Montana’s diatom data. We have made progress towards preparing the data and will be bringing it into our database in the coming year.
That sums up a quick overview of the Botany program and I thank you for listening!
Botany Program Update 2016
To collect & maintain reliable & comprehensive data on
Montana’s native botanical species….
“STATUS UNDER REVIEW”
• Status is not common, not rare, but is unknown.
• Disputed State rank; New, but unassessed
information; or Not ranked
• Project creates a defensible State rank.
• Added: 795 observations, 68 photographs, &
expanded profile for 44 taxa
• Back-log in conducting Reviews on 418 spp.
reduced 20% by September 2017
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Coefficient of Conservatism (C-)
• Funding: MTDEQ
• 1,623 plants assigned a C-value
• 948 plants lack a C-value
- mostly upland species
• C-value reflects the plant’s tolerance
to disturbance AND its affinity to a
specific, unimpaired habitat in
• C-value is the basic unit of Floristic
Quality Assessment method.
Native: habitat moderate
thrives or persists with natural
or human disturbance
Native: habitat specialist
may tolerate or cannot
Native: habitat generalist &
restricted to human disturbance
C-Values Are USEFUL
At the Project Level:
• Make a plant species list
• Add their assigned C-value
• Calculate Statistics:
- number of plant species (n)
- minimum / maximum C-value found
- average C-value ( 𝐶 )
- Floristic Quality Index (FQI) = 𝐶 𝑛
C-value Statistics allows:
• Sites to be compared to determine which has better ecological quality
• Baseline and future conditions to be monitored and compared
• Drives engineering design and species to seed/plant to create
restoration that results in a greater array of ecological function (higher
average C-values, greater range of C-values)
948 (upland) species lack C-values in Montana.
Howell’s Gumweed – S2S3 SOC, USFS Sensitive
• Missoula / Powell Counties, MT
• Study to assess genetic variability
- among populations,
- with its look alike – Curly Cup
- will assist in guiding
USFS, Lolo National Forest
Dr. Bruce McCune, Dr. Roger Rosentreter, Dr. Daphne Stone,
Ann DeBolt, Andrea Pipp, Dr. Katherine Glew, Wendy Velman,
Rob Smith, Wildfire Wanderning
Funding: Montana Native Plant Society; Bureau of Land Management;
Pilot Study Accomplishments:
• Mussellshell County: 1st
documented moss & lichen
survey! they exist!
• Collected ‘ground layer
indicator’ data to assess
• Compliments vegetation data
collected in MFWP Greater
Sage-Grouse Grazing Study plots
& BLM / Milton Ranch transects.
Pursue funding to continue
Recovery Plan monitoring.
Pursue funding to survey
Funding: Swan Ecosystem
Center, U.S. Forest Service
Populating Moss Field Guide & Database
Draft Checklist: 511 species
- coming Feb. 2017
MTNHP Database: 423 species
Moss Field Guide:
• 395 w/ species profile
• 84 w/ photograph(s)
• Publish Checklist
• Update nomenclature in database
MTNHP Database: 639 spp
Documented in MT: 1,074 spp
• Create lichen checklist
• Update nomenclature & field guide