Restoration Potential: The recovery potential of C. decomposita is probably very good if habitat is maintained or restored. The availability of cypress, buttonbush or tupelo as an anchor cannot be overestimated, and may be a limiting factor in areas possessing otherwise good habitat. Bryson (pers. comm.) observed a population explosion along a reservoir in Mississippi following the cutting of cypress trees. When appropriate habitat is present, large populations typically occur.
Preserve Selection and Design Considerations: Land protection must take into account the entire watershed within which a given population of C. decomposita occurs. Without adequate watershed management, long-term population maintenance is not likely to occur. Protection of existing wetlands and natural cover, as well as restoration efforts should greatly aid this species. Natural, constant water levels should be maintained. At a given site, sufficient buffer should be obtained in order to protect C. decomposita populations from herbicide drift or other factors.
Management Requirements: Habitat protection is the primary management need. Without additional protection, C. decomposita will become increasingly scarce, even in areas where the species is currently widespread and relatively common. Management must not only protect the immediate habitat within which the species is found, but also upstream areas within the watershed. Failure to provide adequate protection to the upstream watershed will lead to more frequent flooding episodes and heightened floodwater elevations. Water level changes of this magnitude could be devastating to existing C. decomposita populations.
Other management needs are currently unknown and should be identified as additional research is initiated and completed.
Protection of existing floodplain habitat and restoration of additional habitat should greatly benefit this species. Upland restoration and protection within the watershed will also increase protection for the species by reducing flood levels.
Monitoring Programs: The Illinois Department of Conservation is conducting an annual census of the largest population in the state (Schwegman pers. comm.). Simple counts of the number of plants present are taken and observations of climate, disturbances and flooding which might account for population trends are noted. Contact: John Schwegman, Botany Program Manager, Illinois Department of Conservation, 524 S. Second Street, Springfield, IL 62701-1787. Telephone No. (217) 785-8774.
Management Research Programs: At present, no research is being conducted on any aspect of this species. Periodical inventories, however, are turning up additional populations throughout the range of the species.
Biological Research Needs: The vulnerability of the species to cold temperatures needs to be researched. According to Schwegman (pers. comm.), it seems that cold is a limiting factor in its distribution, and this may explain its preference for spring-fed waters. Response to cold temperatures may also explain population trends and habitat limitations, although it would have little direct management value for extant native populations.
Basic life-history information pertaining to germination requirements, dispersal mechanisms, growth rates, etc., is needed. Better knowledge along this front will lead to better management decisions and identify protection needs.
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