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New Harvard Forest Publication: Plant Life History of Coastal Sandplain Grassland Taxa

April 1, 2007
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Coastal sandplain grasslands of New England harbor a number of rare plant species, but few systematic management techniques have been developed to help foster or restore these critical habitats. Farnsworth (2007) applied a comparative, functional group approach to coastal sandplain grassland taxa in order to examine whether rare plant species share certain aspects of rarity and life history characters that are distinct from their more common, co-occurring relatives in these habitats. The paired comparisons revealed that infrequent species are intrinsically rarer range-wide, occupy a narrower range and a more specialized habitat than their common relatives; they also produce larger seeds, are smaller, rely less on vegetative (colonial) reproduction, and tend toward an annual or biennial life history. Management steps to reduce competition from larger-statured, colonial, perennial species are recommended for these infrequent species.

Farnsworth, E.J. 2007. Plant life history traits of rare versus frequent plant taxa of sandplains: Implications for research and management trials. Biological Conservation. 136. pp 44-52 

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