University of Vermont

forestservice The effect of forest management activities on the population persistence of rare plant Appalachian Jacob's ladder (Polemonium vanbruntiae) in the Green Mountain National Forest
A challenge cost-share agreement with the University of Vermont and United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Green Mountain/Finger Lakes National Forests


The purpose of the collaboration is to monitor populations of rare plant Polemonium vanbruntiae (Appalachian Jacob’s ladder) in the Green Mountain National Forest and to evaluate how forest management practices are impacting future population persistence. 

It is important to determine what effects disturbance will have on threatened and endangered plant populations prior to management activity. Potential management activities affecting P. vanbruntiae populations include invasive species, white-tailed deer herbivory, forest road maintenance (grading, mowing, etc.) and timber-harvesting within the Green Mountain National Forest.

Study Objectives:
  1. To collect 3-5 years of information on the demography, life-cycle transition probabilities, and population dynamics of 8 natural populations of Appalachian Jacob’s ladder occurring on Green Mountain National Forest land in Vermont.
  2. To use this demographic data to build matrix population models to determine future population growth rates and extinction risk under various disturbance regimes (i.e., road maintenance, timber-harvesting, deer herbivory, invasive species). 
  3. To build spatial habitat models to predict new areas to search for new populations of Appalachian Jacob’s ladder within the Green Mountain National Forest.
A key to determining the impact of disturbance on a population is to analyze how disturbance interacts with population dynamics to affect the population’s response.  We can predict long-term population trends under various management and disturbance scenarios by developing population viability analyses using matrix population modeling.

We also are using ArcGIS to target areas of suitable habitat within the Green Mountain National Forest.  The Forest Service will target efforts in searching for new populations of Appalachian Jacob's ladder at these sites.  We have completed 3 years of demographic data collection and ArcGIS modeling.  We are currently in the process of field-checking the spatial model for accuracy.

Annual reports (submitted to the USDA Forest Service, Green Mountain National Forest extension):
2010 (link to PDF)
2009 (link to PDF)
2008 (link to PDF)

Please email Dr. Laura Hill if you would like more information on this project.




Last modified August 18 2014 03:29 PM

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