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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Chicago Field Office Hosts the 21st Annual Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid Volunteer Meeting

Region 3, April 3, 2013
A close-up of one blooming eastern prairie fringed orchid plant.
A close-up of one blooming eastern prairie fringed orchid plant. - Photo Credit: n/a
Jeanne Dunning, a volunteer monitor of the eastern prairie fringed orchid, counts the number of blooms on one plant.
Jeanne Dunning, a volunteer monitor of the eastern prairie fringed orchid, counts the number of blooms on one plant. - Photo Credit: n/a
Laurie Ryan (McHenry County Conservation District) measures the height of an eastern prairie fringed orchid. (Please note that Laurie is kneeling)
Laurie Ryan (McHenry County Conservation District) measures the height of an eastern prairie fringed orchid. (Please note that Laurie is kneeling) - Photo Credit: n/a
Larry McCotter, a volunteer monitor helping to recover this species, hand pollinates an eastern prairie fringed orchid.
Larry McCotter, a volunteer monitor helping to recover this species, hand pollinates an eastern prairie fringed orchid. - Photo Credit: n/a

On March 22, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Chicago Field Office hosted the 21st Annual Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid  Volunteer Meeting. The meeting is usually held in a more formal setting, typically the Chicago Botanic Garden, but this year we decided to do something different. The meeting was held at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Chicago Field Office with the intent on having everyone help construct deer and vole exclosures for our orchid populations.

Because many of our Illinois eastern prairie fringed orchid (Platanthera leucophaea) populations experience deer herbivory usually by deer eating the actual blooming flowers, and/or vole herbivory by voles eating through the stem of the orchid plant, we decided to take this meeting opportunity to also build deer and vole exclosures for the volunteers to take home with them to use at their sites this field season. Supplies were provided at this meeting with  about 25 volunteers making around 40 deer and vole exclosures. This more informal meeting also provided the group an opportunity to learn about each other’s sites. Typically throughout the field season volunteers gain a working knowledge of only their site.

Discussions included a summation of the 2012 field season, the upcoming second year of our Cross Pollination Plan (cross pollination between sites), and the draft Illinois Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid Recovery Strategy.

 

The volunteer monitors of the Illinois Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid Recovery Program visit their population at least three times a season to provide the Service the demographic data on individual orchid plants at their site as well as providing hand pollination and alerting the Service to issues that need to be quickly addressed. They also visit their populations at the end of the season to collect data on seed capsule production of individual plants. We are fortunate and sincerely thankful that these volunteers are so dedicated to recovery of this species.

Contact Info: Cathy Pollack, 847/381-2253 ext. 28, cathy_pollack@fws.gov