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New Species Added to Research with Grant

April 1, 2009
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Sydne Record, a Ph.D. student in the Plant Biology program at the University of Massachusetts whose dissertation research is being supervised by Harvard Forest Senior Ecologist Aaron Ellison, has received a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG) from the National Science Foundation. The DDIG will enable Sydne to expand her research on forecasting demography and population viability of the regionally rare hemiparasitic plant Pedicularis lanceolata to include two other rare species. The focus of her DDIG research will be to reduce uncertainty in forecasts of population sizes and extiction risks of rare species by using Bayesian population viability analyses (PVA). Sydne will construct Bayesian models for two rare plant species originally studied in the 1980s, Calochortus tiburonensis and Pedicularis furbishiae. The models will be parameterized using independent data from closely related congeners, and the originally studied populations of C. tiburonensis and P. furbishiae will be re-censused. Estimates of the extinction risks and 2009 population sizes of the different models will be compared with information on the populations from contemporary censuses. This significant extension of Sydne's research will provide one of the first tests of whether or not it is appropriate to use "informed" prior information in Bayesian PVA and will direcly inform and improve the conservation and recovery plans for these two rare species. 

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