Robbins' Cinquefoil Habitat
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Robbins' cinquefoil, Potentilla robbinsiana (a federally endangered plant).
Use of Study Area Resources:
Historically, Robbins' cinquefoil has been known from only two localities in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. They are the Monroe Flat population on the slopes of Mt. Monroe, and a population at Franconia Ridge. Both locations are within White Mountains National Forest, and are adjacent to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (Doucette and Kimball 1991). The species apparently thrives on interspersed barren ground and low, sparse matted vegetation in the alpine zone. In the White Mountains, New Hampshire, this situation is not common.
Robbins' cinquefoil is a "small perennial herb which grows in densely tufted rosettes measuring 2-4 cm across.., in the exposed alpine zone of the White Mountains, New Hampshire" (ESIS). The following is largely excerpted from the ESIS narrative.Potentilla robbinsiana is found on relatively stony, barren soils which cover a much finer silty soil derived from erosion of the surrounding parent rocks. Though the chemistry has not been well worked out, the parent material appears to contain calcium silicate. The soils are subject to freeze-thaw cycles. The soils, though not waterlogged, are highly saturated (Cogbill 1985 in ESIS). Shading appears to inhibit the species (Graber and Brewer ms in ESIS). It is found at elevations ranging from 1400-1500 meters. Exposure is usually southerly (Doucette and Kimball 1991). Exposure to wind may inhibit the accumulation of winter snow.
The most important threat to P. robbinsiana is the very limited area the population currently occupies. The Monroe Flats population is now well protected, having been officially closed to the public in 1983, and the trail relocated to bypass the site. The current management plan for the rediscovered but apparently marginal Franconia population is not to publicize it or make its presence known by marking off the area. Both the Franconia population with less than ten known adults and the Monroe Flats population with approximately 14,000 adults, juveniles, and seedlings (S. von Oettingen, USFWS, pers. comm.) occupy areas less than 1 hectare in size. Because of the highly restricted localities of the occurrences, our mapping (see below) deliberately generalized the point data. Also, the selection process helps disclose areas that have potential for future colonization by this species.
Habitat was mapped by selecting tundra/bare ground from the landcover grid occurring within a 1 km radius of the 2 known Robbins' cinquefoil locations, and on south, southeast or southwest facing slopes. These areas were scored as 1.0 (preferred habitat); the remainder of the watershed was scored 0.
Doucette, J.E. and K.D. Kimball. 1991. Robbins' Cinquefoil Recovery Plan (first update). U.S. Fish and Wildl. Serv., Newton Corners, MA. 21 pp.
ESIS (Endangered Species Information System) www page. Fish and Wildlife Information Exchange, VA Tech. http://fwie.fw.vt.edu/www/esis/lists/e705004.htm