, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 391-400
Date: 31 Dec 2010

Reintroduction of the endangered fern species Woodsia ilvensis to Estonia: a long-term pilot study

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Abstract

Woodsia ilvensis has become extinct from its last known natural localities in Estonia and has not been rediscovered since 1977. This fern grew in northern and north-western Estonia in areas of suitable habitat. Considering that habitat conditions may have changed in previous localities, an experimental project was started to test if it would be possible to reintroduce W. ilvensis into new localities where suitable habitat conditions exist. Two experiments were performed, one on an old stone wall, constructed of stones collected from the surrounding fields, and another on two granite boulders in two localities, one where the surrounding soil was acidic, and the other where the soil was basic. The plants were grown from spores of wild provenance received from Finland via the seed and spore exchange system of botanical gardens. Results confirmed that individual plants can establish and persist for at least 10 years on stone walls without maintenance. The experiment on boulders failed, as plants did not establish there. Young, 2-year old mature individuals proved to be the best stage for planting out onto the stone walls in this case study. The best indicators for selecting suitable habitat were characteristic plant species of the natural community. Here I discuss the experimental methods used and first results of the experiment.