Action A.4: Study of population dynamics of the priority plant species Veronica oetaea*

Veronica oetaea* (Photo: G. Karetsos)

This action consists of a 2-year study of the population of Veronica oetaea* at the temporary ponds of Leivadies and Greveno on Mt. Oiti in order to assess the base reference state (initial situation) of the plant.

The phenology of the plant will be recorded by bimonthly observations. Population size will be estimated with the use of a 25x25 cm or 50x50 cm permanent grid by direct count of all individuals in all quadrats during the peak flowering period (middle May to middle June, depending on meteorological conditions). The spatial distribution of the species in the ponds will be coupled to the hydrogeological data in order to determine its special habitat requirements.

Seedling survival will be estimated by monitoring seedlings in 10x10 cm grids within the larger permanent grid. The relative reproductive success and seed rain will be estimated by marking and monitoring individuals from the onset of flowering to the end of fruiting. Soil seedbank will be studied by sample boring, using a 2 cm diameter core at the depth of 5 cm. The samples will be sieved by sieves with suitable mesh and Veronica oetaea* seeds will be counted directly. The percentage of viable seeds will be determined by laboratory germination tests.

reasons why this is necessary: 

The study of population dynamics is essential in order to understand the ecology of the plant and to assess the conservation status of the population and the factors that affect it. This knowledge is necessary in order to propose specifications for sound management measures (actions A.6, A.8) and will provide both the reference state as well as the indices to be monitored in order to assess the impact of management on the plant (action D.1). In addition, the data will be used in order to investigate the feasibility of, and draw specifications for, the enhancement of the population of Veronica oetaea* (action C.2).

Germination data is a necessary complement for the function of the seedbank and a pre-requisite for the production of plants for population enhancement. Phenology, germination and seedling survival data guide the timing and method of the establishment of new plants. Population size and fluctuation and reproductive success data are necessary for conservation status assessment and monitoring. The estimation of the soil seedbank is necessary for the evaluation of population size in case of dormant species, and of the capacity for regeneration after disturbance.

The second year of monitoring is necessary in order to assess the amplitude of the potentially significant interannual variation (see Action A.2) in the plant population parameters. The whole set of data can be used for Population Viability Analysis using a stage-structured and a spatial-structured model, which provide reliable information with few years of monitoring.

expected results: 
  • A report on population dynamics and the factors that affect them.
  • Specification of a monitoring protocol for Veronica oetaea* for action D.1 and for after-LIFE monitoring.
  • Feasibility study and specifications for Veronica oetaea* population enhancement (action C.2).
beneficiary responsible for implementation: 

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