Alaska Botany Forum 2018: Abstracts

Phlox hoodii and P. richardsonii are phenotypically and genetically distinct
Bruce Bennett
Yukon Conservation Data Centre
Abstract: Both Phlox hoodii and P. richardsonii occur in Yukon and can be separated by phenotypic characters which are supported by genetic evidence. Distribution, historical significance, and habitat preference will be discussed.

Range expansions - Invaders or Residents?
Bruce Bennett
Yukon Conservation Data Centre
Abstract: Range expansion for vertebrates is well-documented and species are considered native. For plants the same expansion often leads to an exotic status. With climate change habitats and species ranges are changing should we rethink how we are treating these taxa?

Species richness, community composition, and species distribution patterns in Aleutian plants
Monte D. Garroutte (1, 2), Falk Huettmann (1), Campbell O. Webb (3), and Stefanie M. Ickert-Bond (1, 3)
1. Department of Biology and Wildlife, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA; 2. State of Alaska, Division of Spill Prevention and Response, Contaminated Sites Program, 610 University Ave., Fairbanks, AK 99709-3643, USA; 3. UA Museum of the North Herbarium, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA
Abstract: We conducted an analysis of vascular plant distributional patterns in the Aleutian Islands to identify and quantify the impact of potential Aleutian Island distance dispersal barriers and ecological constraints. To achieve this we calculated and input a classic species assemblage dissimilarity measurement (Jaccard Index), a measurement of phylogenetic dissimilarity (UniFrac), and species richness into non-parametric algorithmic models (TreeNet) based on classic and Aleutians-specific island biogeography hypotheses. Our models indicate Aleutian plant species richness is strongly associated with area and island isolation, distance from the islands to the Alaska Peninsula, and island total stream length. Species composition is strongly associated with the landmass groups during the last glacial maximum, maximum island elevation, island isolation and island area. Species phylogenetic composition is associated with island area, distance from the islands to the Chukotka Peninsula, maximum island elevation, island geologic age, and island isolation.

Patterns of plant succession in the Central Brooks Range: from alpine to Arctic tundra along a glacial sequence
Shawnee A. Gowan
Univ. Alaska Fairbanks, Institute of Arctic Biology
Abstract: Understanding how Arctic ecosystems are responding to change hinges on understanding patterns of vegetation succession. This study focuses on how vegetation communities develop during primary succession in a harsh, Arctic-alpine environment following deglaciation, with special focus on cryptogamic pioneer communities. Alaska’s Arctic Brooks Range has a rich glacial history dating back to the mid-Pleistocene. Glaciers remaining today in small cirques are retreating rapidly, exposing fresh substrate available for potential colonization. Little is known about the earliest stages of succession especially in Arctic-alpine environments, and very little focus has been given to cryptogams (e.g. lichens and bryophytes), commonly pioneering primary succession. Using data gathered from six glacial moraine plant communities dating across five mid-Pleistocene to Holocene glacial moraine deposits (150,000-40 ybp) from an alpine cirque to the southern Sagavanirktok foothills of the central Brooks Range, this study will ask the primary question: How do Arctic plant communities develop along a glacial sequence across time and elevation? The objective of this research is to investigate how six specific factors; time, altitude, substrate, environment, topography, and community composition influence community development. As well as assess short term change using data and imagery collected during the development of the Dalton Highway. This study provides insight into how habitat might become available, and how possibly change in the Arctic as glaciers continue to retreat and the climate warms.

NEON’s approach to botany: past, present, and future
Will Hendricks, and Lori Petrauski
National Ecological Observatory Network, Domain 18/19, Fairbanks, AK, USA
Abstract: Overview of Alaska’s two NEON domains (taiga and tundra), botany protocols, and difficulties encountered in relation to taxonomy.

On Open Access, data mining and plant conservation in the Circumpolar North with an online data example of the Herbarium, University of Alaska Museum of the North
Falk Huettmann (1), and Stefanie M. Ickert-Bond (2)
1. EWHALE Lab, IAB and B&W, University of Alaska; 2. UA Herbarium UAF
Abstract: With the advent of global online data sharing initiatives, few limits remain to using the treasure troves of museum data for biodiversity conservation. The University of Alaska herbarium (ALA) is fully online with metadata. Over 260,000 specimens representing the largest collection of Alaska plants anywhere can be data mined. We found that most specimens were collected through the National Park Service’s Inventory and Monitoring program at Denali National Park and Preserve. The majority of specimens were collected along roads, trails, coastline or waterways, while high-altitude, remote and pristine sampling locations are underrepresented still. Actual field efforts varied over the years, peaking in late 1980s. From 1 to 400 specimens were collected per sampling location, and on average 40 species were obtained per collection event at a unique location. Our analysis presents a first data mining inventory of such open access online data allowing for a rapid assessment, quality control and predictive modeling involving automated high-performing machine learning algorithms and mapping analysis using open GIS concepts. Our research sets a first template for more investigations in the Arctic and we briefly compare with selected specimen details from adjacent landscapes like the Russian Far East, Canada, and the circumpolar North.

The Claytonia arctica complex – a Beringian taxonomic puzzle
Stefanie M. Ickert-Bond, David F. Murray, and Campbell O. Webb
Herbarium (ALA), University of Alaska Museum of the North, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1962 Yukon Dr., Fairbanks, AK 99775, U.S.A.
Abstract: The legacy of repeated patterns of recolonization into deglaciated areas in Beringia has added additional complexity to species’ phylogenetic history. Differing taxonomic views on the delimitation of Beringian taxa has caused taxonomic controversies. One important example of Beringian taxonomic puzzles is the plant genus Claytonia. (spring beauty, Montiaceae). Porsild in 1974 drew our attention to the status of Claytonia arctica Adams in North America as he understood the species. We have reviewed the material at ALA and have a different view of what constitutes C. arctica. There are three distinct taxa at play: C. arctica, C. scammaniana and C. porsildii, and yet undescribed entities in the complex. The Claytonia arctica complex lends itself nicely to demonstrate the added value of using taxon concept mapping in herbarium management. Because the circumscription (the set of specimens that are classed together) of a taxonomic name can change over time, even as the name itself does not change, it is vital to specify the particular usage of that name (i.e., an ‘according to’ statement) when representing specimen determinations in the herbarium database. We will present our current understanding of this Beringian taxonomic puzzle by describing how the taxa are different from one another morphologically, as well as disentangling their taxonomic history using taxon concept mapping.

Rare plant survey for Fort Greely, Alaska
Jeff Mason
Salcha-Delta Soil and Water Conservation District
Abstract: A brief re-survey of known sites of five rare plants previously documented on Fort Greely.

Building a statewide vegetation plot database and prediction of species abundances
Timm Nawrocki
Alaska Center for Conservation Science
Abstract: Numerous efforts to collect vegetation cover data have been funded throughout Alaska, but project data has remained difficult to access. ACCS has begun development of a web-hosted mysql database to curate and provide open access to vegetation plot data for the state. We are using abundance data from multiple projects to predict species abundances on a landscape scale in Arctic Alaska and to assess compatibility between various vegetation plot methods.

Alaska berries and climate change
Lindsey V. Parkinson
University of Alaska Fairbanks, Biology and Wildlife Department
Abstract: Data visualization and information on the process of berry formation and how climate change may impact it.

A new raster Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map (CAVM)
Martha K. Raynolds (1), Donald A. Walker (1)
Unversity of Alaska, Institute of Arctic Biology
Abstract: The Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map (CAVM) is a vector (polygon) map that mapped the vegetation of the whole Arctic using a consistent legend. Although the CAVM has proved to be a very useful tool, there has been interest in a raster version of the map. This project created a 1-km resolution raster CAVM using the same legend categories as the original CAVM. The raster map provides greater resolution (1-km pixels vs. 14-km minimum polygon diameter), while maintaining the same consistent vegetation legend. The new map is based on unsupervised classifications of seventeen geographic/floristic sub-sections of the map using AVHRR and MODIS data (band and NDVI) and elevation data. The units resulting from the classification were modeled to the CAVM types using a wide variety of ancillary data: the original CAVM map, climate data, substrate data, existing regional vegetation maps and ground studies. The map was reviewed by experts familiar with their particular region, including many of the original authors of the CAVM from the U.S., Canada, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Norway (including Svalbard), and Russia. The final product will be available on the Alaska Arctic GeoEcological Atlas hosted by GINA at the University of Alaska Fairbanks

Unique and high diversity plant communities in interior Alaska are threatened by woody plant expansion
Carl Roland (1), and Jay Ver Hoef (2)
1. National Park Service, Fairbanks, AK 99709; 2. Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Phenology of P. tremuloides in interior Alaska
Loring P. Schaible, Carl Roland, Fleur Nicklen, David Swanson, and Sarah Stehn
NPS Central Alaska Network
Abstract: I will be discussing my research on the climate variables that influence the spring and autumnal phenological transitions of P. tremuloides (quaking aspen) and the implications of climate change on the species phenological calendar in Alaska.

Alaskan berry citizen science from buds to berry loss - An overview of the Winterberry and Late Bloomers citizen science projects
Katie Spellman (1), and Christa Mulder (2)
1. International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775; 2. Institute of Arctic Biology and Department of Biology and Wildlife, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775
Abstract: The timing and abundance of many berry species is becoming less predictable than in the past, which has consequences for both animals and people. Longer growing seasons has potential to alter berry production at nearly every phase of the reproductive cycle, from the pre-formation of flower buds to the condition of berries that remain on the plant through winter. This presentation will introduce two new UAF-initiated citizen science projects that engage diverse audiences in helping investigate these changes: 1. Late Bloomers- a project investigating how changes in growing season length influences the development of pre-formed buds, and 2. Winterberry - a project investigating how changes in growing season length influences the timing and condition of berries that remain available to animals in late fall and winter.

Effects of the aspen leaf miner (Phyllocnistis populiella) outbreak on tree growth and physiology
Diane Wagner (1), Stephen J. Burr (2), and Patricia Doak (1)
1. Institute of Arctic Biology and Department of Biology and Wildlife, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775; 2. Forest Service Region 10, State and Private Forestry, Forest Health Protection, Fairbanks, AK 99709
Abstract: Insect outbreaks have profound effects on North American forests, and may increase in frequency and intensity as the climate warms. Within Alaskan boreal forests, damage caused by the aspen leaf miner, Phyllocnistis populiella, has been widespread and intense for most of the past 20 years. Using a combination of field and lab experiments, we studied the consequences of the outbreak for aspen performance and the underlying physiological mechanisms. Across seven years, small aspen trees subject to natural levels of mining died back, losing more than half of their original height and shoot number, whereas trees treated with insecticide to reduce leaf mining maintained their height and foliage. P. populiella feeds solely within the epidermal cell layer of both sides of the leaf. Feeding damage on the abaxial surface renders guard cells unresponsive and largely closed, reducing photosynthesis. While unresponsive stomata might be expected to reduce rates of water loss, several lines of evidence, including direct measurements of water loss under controlled conditions and field measurements of leaf water potential and water content, indicate that leaf mining increases water loss by generally increasing cuticular permeability. The results suggest that leaf mining P. populiella has particularly harmful effects during drought.

The problem with names: taxon concepts and the integration of historical taxonomies for the flora of Alaska
Campbell O. Webb, Stefanie M. Ickert-Bond, and David F. Murray
Herbarium (ALA), University of Alaska Museum of the North, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1962 Yukon Dr., Fairbanks, AK 99775, U.S.A.
Abstract: For taxa that have been subject to several historical revisions, the circumscription of specimens associated with a single, constant name can have changed significantly over time. While long recognized, this problem has seldom been dealt with in biodiversity databases, presenting major challenges for integrating specimens collected over many decades, e.g., for species distribution modeling. This problem is especially acute for the Alaskan flora, which contains many taxa that have been described and revised independently by North America, Russian and European authors. The solution is to consistently specify a Taxon Concept (name plus an ‘according to’) rather than just a Taxon Name. Taxon concepts, for e.g., a species, can then be related to each other (Taxon Concept Mapping). We will discuss the taxon-concept-enabled database structure that underlies a new project at ALA to integrate: Hultén’s flora, the ALA checklist of Murray et al., herbarium of University of Alaska (UAAH) Anchorage checklists, new revisionary accounts, UA Museum specimens (in ARCTOS), and observations in iNaturalist, as a basis for a new community-developed flora of Alaska.

The value of Ecological Land Surveys (ELS) to plant conservation efforts
Aaron Wells
ABR, Inc. Environmental Research and Services
Abstract: In an Ecological Land Survey (ELS), landscapes are viewed not as aggregations of independent biological and physical resources, but as ecological systems with functionally related parts. The goal of an ELS is to provide a consistent conceptual framework for sampling, modeling, analyzing, interpreting, and applying ecological knowledge. The first phase of an ELS is an ecological land inventory that involves field surveys and analyses of field data, including describing and quantifying plant species composition, vegetation structure, and collecting plant voucher specimens. The botanical data resulting from an ELS are highly valuable for plant conservation efforts. For instance, because the surveys are intensive with sampling spread spatially across a study area and with replicate sampling of vegetation types, ELS field data can serve as a basic floristic inventory. Specific rare and non-native plant surveys also can be easily integrated into the same ELS field effort. Additionally, voucher specimens from ELS field studies, when contributed to an herbarium, provide another source of information for present and future plant conservation and invasive species management efforts.