Phenology of the threatened Diuris praecox (Orchidaceae), a range-restricted terrestrial orchid from central eastern New South Wales

  • Phenological studies are important to gain insights into the ecology of plant species, particularly those that are threatened and require specific management actions such as regular population monitoring. For many species of terrestrial orchids, limited fundamental knowledge on peak flowering, pollination and seed production restricts effective monitoring outcomes. In this single-season study, phenology data from one population of the vulnerable Diuris praecox were collected, with the aim of informing future management relating to monitoring surveys and to assist in conservation of this species. To this end, six sub-populations (three each in forest habitat and along maintained powerline easements) were visited weekly from the onset of flowering until seed release, with observations made on 134 tagged individuals within 10 x 10 m plots. During the 2019 flowering season, 37% of all plants developed capsules, and 35% released seed. However, success varied between locations, with greater floral displays along powerline easements resulting in stronger pollination rates, while sparse sub-populations in forested locations showed lower pollination. Significantly more flowers per inflorescence (range 1-7) were evident in forest than easement sites, but there was no significant difference in inflorescence height across these habitats. For most sub-populations at least one orchid set seed, even when occurring in low densities (<10 plants). Overall, substantial floral displays did not necessarily result in abundant fruiting, and impacts from desiccation, predation and grazing likely prevented more successful capsule production in any given sub-population. The synchronously flowering shrubs Daviesia ulicifolia and Pultenaea villosa co-occurred across all sub-populations, suggesting that the nectar-less Diuris praecox may mimic these species to attract pollinators. Peak flowering was determined to be approximately 20 days from the onset of flowering, with 83% of all plants in flower at that time. For ongoing monitoring, the timing of surveys to occur approximately three weeks after the first observed flowering, will likely maximize return-for-effort, particularly when survey resources are limited, although it is acknowledged that different seasons and populations may vary from this timeframe.

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Author:Bonni Yare, Stephen Bell, Nigel Hunter
ISSN:0727- 9620
ISSN:2200 - 405X
Parent Title (English):Cunninghamia : a journal of plant ecology for eastern Australia
Document Type:Article
Year of first Publication:2020
Publishing Institution:Universit├Ątsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2021/02/24
Page Number:9
First Page:105
Last Page:113
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 58 Pflanzen (Botanik) / 580 Pflanzen (Botanik)
Sammlungen:Sammlung Biologie / Sondersammelgebiets-Volltexte
Zeitschriften / Jahresberichte:Cunninghamia : A Journal of Plant Ecology for Eastern Australia / Cunninghamia : A Journal of Plant Ecology for Eastern Australia, Volume 20 (2020)
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht