Ascension : Conservation Weekly
Submitted by The Islander (Conservation Office) 04.10.2012 (Article Archived on 18.10.2012)
During the last few months we have been concentrating our efforts on boosting the number of plants in the nursery to prepare for the next stage of the project, which entails planting out a mix of endemic and native plants in two of the plots at each of the project areas.
OTEP Plant Conservation Project-An ecosystem Approach to Plant Conservation by Liza White and Catherine Supple
During the last few months we have been concentrating our efforts on boosting the number of plants in the nursery to prepare for the next stage of the project, which entails planting out a mix of endemic and native plants in two of the plots at each of the project areas. Thanks to our new shade house at Two Boats Village, we have been successful in rearing a number of Euphorbia seedlings. Once the seedlings have developed they have to go through a hardening off process before they can be potted out on site. This process involves exposing them to lighter and less watering to encourage more root growth. These conditions will be similar to those the plant will experience once planted out on the project site which will be within the next few weeks.
Plant work has already started at the Comfortless Cove and South Gannet Hill site in the form of seed sowing in one of the fenced plots at each site. Initial sowing performed in June involved casting approximately 500 Euphorbia seeds, 50 purslane seeds and 500 seed stalks of Aristida. Watering has been consistent throughout the weeks, although no germination has yet occurredthis may be due to environmental and seasonal constraints. Seed sowing will be continual until signs of germination.
In the meantime, survey work is on-going at all four project sites. Environmental, vegetation and invertebrate surveys are carried out every four weeks at each site, along with monitoring of any grazing by way of infra-red cameras. Vegetation survey has shown that there is not much change in the variety or number of vegetation at the project sites since survey began, but this gives us a good baseline to compare results with after planting out has been completed.
Small fly, possible Chlorophidae family, identified by the pattern of veins on the wings
Invertebrate survey and collections have been carried out since May at both the Comfortless Cove site and the South Gannet Hill site, since June at North East Bay site and since July at White Horse Hill site. On initial analysis, many of the same species are being found at all four site, however, some species have only been found at the White Horse Hill site, and there is a notable difference in the numbers of the same species being found at each site.
Euphorbia seedlings ready for re-potting
The herbarium collection has been developing steadily with now approximately 50 of the estimated 280 or more plants species (including the endemic, native and introduced) on Ascension. The endemic specimens will be sent to the herbarium at Kew Botanical Gardens for long term storage.
A seed collection, herbarium specimen and full habitat description with GPS readings of all endemic plant species are currently being assembled to be sent to the Millennium Seed Bank. As with the Kew Herbarium this will ensure the seeds are correctly stored and will remain viable for any future restoration projects
Please be advised that due to on-going field work the Conservation Office will open from 7.30am -10am during week days. We open as normal on Saturdays, 10am-12noon, signs will be posted on the door when the office is closed. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.
Volunteers welcome. Please contact Natasha Williams or Jolene Sim. Ascension Island Conservation Department. Georgetown. Tel: 6359. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com