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Restoration as science: case of the collared lizard
Date:8/22/2011

processes, that's the best way of doing species conservation, because we just don't have the time and resources to save a species one by one.

On the lizard's coattails

Moreover, Templeton says, if you manage at the landscape level you support not only charismatic species like the collared lizards but also many equally endangered but less glamorous species that otherwise might perish unnoticed

In the case of the collared lizards, the coattail riders included two endemic fen species: the snakemouth orchid and Hine's emerald dragonfly.

Most of the fens in North America are in the Great Lakes region and Canada, but there are also teeny tiny fens (waterlogged areas with a low pH) in the Ozarks.

"Because the fens are wet, you wouldn't expect them to burn," Templeton says. "But I went to one of the fens during a burn and there was a wall of fire 20 feet high traveling across the fen.

"As soon as the top layer of the fen burned, all these old species popped up, including the snakemouth orchid, an orchid that grows only in fens in the Ozarks and that was known from only a handful of locations.

The Ozarks are also home to an endangered dragonfly called the Hine's emerald dragonfly for its bulbous emerald-green eyes. The Hine's dragonfly can hybridize with a sister species that's adapted to the forest. Because the forest species is very abundant and the forests were encroaching on the fens, hybridization was wiping out the fen dragonfly genetically.

"When we burned, we separated the species a bit it didn't take much and that helped the dragonfly," Templeton says.

"When I first started doing this," Templeton says, "I didn't think about the fens, to tell the truth, and we burned the fens because they were part of the landscape and suddenly all this stuff started appearing.

"In conservation biology," Templeton says, "you're always forced into a position where you have to act on incomple
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Contact: Diana Lutz
dlutz@wustl.edu
314-935-5272
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert  

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