Conserving The Lakeside Daisy With a Little Help From Our Friends
By Jennifer Finfera
Ohio Ecological Services Field Office
One of the responsibilities of the Ohio Ecological Services Field Office is annual collection of seed from the federally threatened lakeside daisy. The lakeside daisy, which occurs on the Marblehead Peninsula and Kelleys Island in Ohio, is found in dry, rocky prairie underlain by limestone, or in cliff and alvar crevices of exposed limestone rock outcrops. The Lakeside daisy requires an open habitat with full sun exposure.
The Ohio Field Office obtained permission this year to collect seed from an active quarry on the Marblehead peninsula owned by Lafarge North America Inc. The quarry provides the rocky habitat that this species requires.
The challenge: Seed collection always occurs in early summer, when the field office is also busy with bird surveys, other plant surveys, fish work, Earth Day celebrations and other activities.
This year the Ohio Field office coordinated with volunteers from the Ohio Natural Areas and Preserves Association as well as people who have completed Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist training. Several interns from the Toledo Botanical Garden joined the effort. By having volunteers available and willing to assist, the field office was able to coordinate a significant group of people to collect seed.
After staff and volunteers attended safety training, provided by Lafarge, volunteers and staff spent three days walking over gravel hills collecting seeds that were ready for harvest. Seeds were collected over a two-week period so that plants with a variety of blooming times were collected. Seed collecting started in the mornings and on some days extended until midafternoon. Volunteers and staff collected over a dozen bags of flower heads containing seed, which weighed in at over 5 pounds. This is quite impressive since the seed is so small. The volunteers had a great time as the weather was not too hot and there was a breeze from the lake to help keep everyone cool.
Seeds were gathered for storage by the Ohio Ecological Services Field Office and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Seeds were allowed to dry and will be stored until fall when they will be used to augment existing populations on public land. The Ohio field office plans on collecting seed for the next few years in an effort to maintain genetic diversity and establish additional self-sustaining populations of the Lakeside daisy on public land.