Tag! You’re it!

Dr. Aslan poses with a tag used to mark individual beardless chinchweed plants. After collecting years of detailed demographic data, researchers will build models to determine beardless chinchweed’s extinction risk and identify threats to this species’ long-term persistence.

Are populations of beardless chinchweed going extinct? In 2021, beardless chinchweed (Pectis imberbis), a small plant in the daisy family, was listed as an Endangered Species. Now government agencies and researchers are trying to figure out how to rescue this species from extinction. Demographic models are a key tool to look at variation in population growth across the landscape to identify threats to species persistence. Importantly, demographic models can be built from data collected in a way that does not disturb the species. Researchers tag and follow plants through time, measuring them, assessing reproduction, and looking for signs of disease or stress on an annual basis. Results are pending, but initial findings indicate that Pectis imberbis has an interesting form of rarity, occurring infrequently across the landscape, but at high densities in suitable habitat. Moreover, grazing and drought may depress population growth. Researchers will continue visiting these beardless chinchweeds in order to support species recovery efforts.  

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