Overview

Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Tobias' saxifrage is endemic to the western Salmon River Mountains, north of McCall, in west-central Idaho. The seven known occurrences are scattered over an approximately 18 km (11 mi) wide by 19 km (12 mi) long (Mancuso 2003b).

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

Diagnostic characters for Tobias' saxifrage include its annual habit, the main stem being terminated by a single flower, and most other flowers replaced by bulbils.

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Type Information

Syntype for Saxifraga bryophora A. Gray
Catalog Number: US 320778
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): W. H. Brewer
Year Collected: 1863
Locality: Ebbett's Pass., California, United States, North America
  • Syntype: Gray, A. 1865. Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts. 6: 533.
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Syntype for Saxifraga bryophora A. Gray
Catalog Number: US 320777
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): W. H. Brewer
Year Collected: 1863
Locality: Sierra Nevada, peak notheast of camp 117., California, United States, North America
Elevation (m): 2743
  • Syntype: Gray, A. 1865. Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts. 6: 533.
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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Tobias' saxifrage occurs in openings in subalpine forest communities, classified as the Vaccinium globulare phase of the Abies lasiocarpa/Xerophyllum tenax habitat type. Within this community it occurs in microhabitats characterized by considerable amounts of bare soil and substrate instability. The cause of the instability has two sources: earth cores created by pocket gopher activity and meltwater channels between bedrock or areas stabilized by perennial vegetation. Plants are found on the flat-to-gently sloping portions of the meltwater channels. It does not occur in the steeper channel sections, where the substrate is continually subject to downslope movement, nor in gravelly depressions where ephemeral ponding takes place.

Although saturated early in the growing season, soils at all sites are dry by about mid-July. Populations occur mostly on aspects other than north. Elevations of known populations range from 7,400 to 8,400 feet. The underlying geology is uniformly intrusive, although several rock-types are present, including quartz monzonite, granodiorite, and quartz diorite.

Associated species include Lewisia triphylla, Hypericum formosum, Polygonum phytolaccaefolium, Polygonum austiniae, Castilleja miniata, Antennaria lanata, Erythronium grandiflorum, Arenaria capillaris, Trisetum spicatum, Poa gracillima, Vaccinium scoparium, Mimulus breweri, Phlox diffusa, Cymopterus glaucus, Suksdorfia ranunculifolia, and Pinus albicaulis (Moseley 1989).

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Associations

Known Pests: There are no known pests documented for Tobias' saxifrage.

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20

Comments: Known from seven occurrences rangewide.

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General Ecology

Tobias's saxifrage is rarely found beneath the forest canopy, suggesting a relatively high light requirement. Tobias' saxifrage occurs in sites characterized by considerable amounts of exposed bare soil and substrate instability (Moseley 1996). Competition for space and resources appears to limit plants to these open soil areas (Moseley 1989). Like many annuals, these observations indicate Tobias' saxifrage is adapted to and probably requires periodic disturbance to maintain open habitats. However, high-magnitude disturbance events may be detrimental, at least on a local scale. Evidence for this comes from a recent resurvey of populations located in areas where large wildfires occurred in 1994. Preliminary indications are that one population may have been extirpated, perhaps due to a combination of the species' life history characteristics and the severe intensity of the burn and subsequent erosion. Tobias' saxifrage puts most of its reproductive energy into producing bulbils as a means of propagation. These bulbils may not be able to withstand burial by high levels of sediment such as after a severe fire, or other major disturbance event.

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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Persistence: ANNUAL

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Micranthes bryophora

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Micranthes bryophora

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N2 - Imperiled

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: T2 - Imperiled

Reasons: Tobias' saxifrage is endemic to an to a <400 square kilometer area in the mountains of west-central Idaho. It is known from only seven occurrences, with occupied habitat <0.4 ha at most, if not all occurrences. Several subpopulations at one occurrence were extirpated following a large, severe wildfire in 1994.

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements scarce.

Comments: Tobias' saxifrage occurs in subalpine forest openings among slabs of exposed, granitic bedrock, rock ledges, or other rocky outcroppings that are protected from extensive, direct solar exposure. This general type of habitat is common and widespread at high elevations within and beyond the species' range in west-central Idaho. Within this common habitat setting, however, Tobias' saxifrage is restricted to small, scattered patches or micro-habitat "islands" that are apparently much less abundant across the landscape. The micro-habitats are characterized by very shallow, undeveloped, decomposing granitic substrate, high cover of exposed bare soil, and a relatively high level of substrate instability largely related to meltwater runoff. This narrow set of specific habitat requirements conditions probably influences the narrow distribution and rarity of Tobias' saxifrage (Pierson 1999).

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: T5 - Secure

Reasons: Saxifraga bryophora var. bryophora is reported in California (1600-4500 meters) in the Klamath Ranges, High Cascade Range and High Sierra Nevada, occurring in sandy (to gravelly) meadows and on ledges.

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)

Comments: Three consecutive years of monitoring indicated the number of Tobias' saxifrage plants at a subpopulation can fluctuate substantially (Mancuso 2003b). The number of reproductive versus vegetative rosettes and the average number of bulbils/plant can also vary annually. The three-year monitoring dataset has shown an annual increase in the number of Tobias' saxifrage plants for some transects, a decrease each year at others, and a fluctuating pattern at most (Mancuso 2003b). In 2003, the number of plants tallied along transects monitored for three years was 27% more than in 2002, but 13% less compared to 2001. Habitat conditions were stable over the monitoring period. Although monitoring has not been conducted for a long enough time period to know the natural range of variability for assessing population trends with confidence, it appears that the short-term population trend is largely stable overall. An exception is at the North Fork Pearl Creek occurrence. Several subpopulations comprising this occurrence were extirpated following a severe wildfire in 1994 (Moseley 1996).

Global Long Term Trend: Unknown

Comments: Tobias' saxifrage was described as a new species in 1981, a few years after it was first discovered. For many years it was known only from the type location. Information is not available to evaluate long-term trends for this species.

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Threats

Degree of Threat: Medium

Comments: Accelerated erosion and other impacts to microsites supporting Tobias' saxifrage associated with high-magnitude disturbances such as severe wildfires are probably the main threat to the species' persistence at a given site. Several small subpopulations at the North Fork Pearl Creek occurrence were extirpated following a large, severe wildfire in 1994 Moseley 1996). The local extirpations appeared to be the result of habitat changes to the microsites formerly supporting Tobias' saxifrage, including sediment deposition and also drier conditions from the loss of conifer canopy shading. Cattle trampling is seasonally prevalent at one of the subpopulation comprising the Granite Mountain occurrence, but monitoring indicates Tobias' saxifrage is persisting at the site (Mancuso 2003b). Past, and possibly ongoing sheep grazing takes place within some occurrences, but there is no evidence this has negatively affected the Tobias' saxifrage population. The occurrence of Tobias' saxifrage in rocky, high elevation sites with low productivity makes timber harvest an unlikely threat (Moseley 1989). Two occurrences are located near trails and one near a road, and maintainance activities have the potential to adversely effect Tobias' saxifrage. There are no indications this has been a problem in the past. Several occurrences are located in relatively remote and undisturbed areas with no known threats.

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Management

Biological Research Needs: A limited amount of research has been conducted regarding the reintroduction of Tobias' saxifrage into previously occupied habitat Pierson 1999, Mancuso 2003a). More in-depth and systematic research concerning reintroduction is needed before this can become a meaningful conservation tool. A monitoring program for Tobias' saxifrage has been implemented that includes all seven known occurrences. Three years of monitoring data have been collected (Mancuso 2001, Mancuso 2003a, Mancuso 2003b). The focus of the monitoring program is to provide rangewide population and habitat condition trend information. Continuation of the program is needed to evaluate short- and long-term conservation trends.

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Wikipedia

Micranthes bryophora

Micranthes bryophora is a species of saxifrage known by the common name bud saxifrage. It is native to the western United States, where its two varieties are geographically separated. The more common var. bryophora is endemic to the mountains of California, and the rare var. tobiasiae is known only from the Payette National Forest of western Idaho.[1][2]

This plant is a perennial herb producing a basal rosette of fleshy, hairy, lance-shaped leaves up to 4 centimeters long. The inflorescence arises on a peduncle up to 25 centimeters tall with widely spaced flowers, each at the tip of a pedicel. The inflorescence also contains reproductive bulblets. Each flower has five spade-shaped petals which are white with two golden spots near the base. At the center are ten stamens tipped with red anthers.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mancuso, M. Monitoring Tobias' saxifrage (Saxifraga bryophora var. tobiasiae) on the Payette National Forest: First year results. Idaho Department of Fish & Game, December 2001.
  2. ^ USDA Forest Service Botany in the News
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