I am committed to the conservation of biodiversity. My major research focused on one aspect of biodiversity, conservation of rare plant populations. The broad goal of the work conducted by me and my students, both graduate and undergraduate, was to develop knowledge of the biological characteristics of rare plant species to inform efforts to conserve these species. The particular work conducted with individual species depended on the perceived threats to its conservation; therefore, the goals of my various projects varied considerably. For example, we determined that ineffective insect pollination is one of several mechanisms that nearly totally preclude seed production in rough leaf loosestrife, a federally endangered species. Given this knowledge, we recommended that consideration be given to planting a thoroughly pollinated species of loosestrife with mitigation plantings of rough leaf loosestrife in hopes that insects would also visit it. Another study examined survivorship and growth of spring-flowering goldenrod, a state endangered species, on soils varying in wetness in the Croatan National Forest. Despite the fact that this goldenrod is an obligate wetland species, its survivorship was negligible on the wettest soil. Survivorship and growth were maximized on drier soils. These results informed the selection of a mitigation site for transplanting this species from a large population that was severely impacted by a highway construction project. Another project involved determining whether or not seed production and fitness in small populations of smooth coneflower, federally endangered, is less than that in the single large population in North Carolina. Results suggested that seeds from small populations were equal in number per head and in fitness to those from the large population. This suggested that mechanisms other than pollination limitation were more threatening to small populations of this species.
I was also involved with floristic projects. A study compared the soils and flora of a conserved savanna with those features of neighboring savannas. Results showed that the flora and soils of the conserved savanna are unique. Another study was designed to describe the flora, soils, and plant community types of a Coastal Plain environmental education center and to provide educational materials relating to the flora and communities for the center’s use in its educational programs.
- Pollination biology and seed production of a federally endangered perennial, Echinacea laevigata (Asteraceae:Heliantheae) , American Midland Naturalist (2012)
- Lost and found: Remnants of the Big Savannah and their relationship to Wet Savannas in North Carolina , Castanea (2011)
- Habitat and search criteria of the rare Sandhills lily, Lilium pyrophilum M. W. Skinner and Sorrie , Castanea (2010)
- Genetic analyses of the federally endangered Echinacea laevigata using amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLP)-Inferences in population genetic structure and mating system , Conservation Genetics (2009)
- Vascular flora, plant communities, and soils of a significant natural area in the middle Atlantic coastal plain (Craven County, North Carolina) , Castanea (2009)
- Effects of vegetation management on bird habitat in riparian buffer zones , Southeastern Naturalist (2008)
- Effects and importance of soil wetness and neighbor vegetation on Solidago verna M. A. Curtis ex Torrey & A. Gray (spring-flowering goldenrod) [Asteraceae] transplant survivorship and growth , Castanea (2007)
- Effects of vegetation removal on native understory recovery in an exotic-rich urban forest , Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society (2007)
- Limitations to fruit and seed production by Lysimachia asperulifolia Poir. (Primulaceae), a rare plant species of the Carolinas , Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society (2006)
- Flora and soils of Wells Savannah, an example of a unique savanna type , Castanea (2005)