Effects of community-level grassland management on the non-target rare annual Agalinis auriculata

Pati Vitt*, Kayri Havens, Bruce E. Kendall, Tiffany M. Knight

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The objective of grassland management is to maintain keystone species, as well as species diversity, to promote a particular community structure, or to preserve specific ecosystem processes. Studies of grassland management rarely ascertain the effects on rare plant species, although conservation plans for rare herbaceous plants often recommend habitat management as well as restoration activities. Indeed, conservation biology has evolved from a relatively species-specific discipline into one more focused on larger scale issues such as ecosystem function, community composition and habitat restoration. Few studies have tested whether species of concern are adequately managed with a community or ecosystem-level approach. In this study, we evaluate whether community-level management of white-tailed deer and woody brush improves the viability of the rare annual plant species, Agalinis auriculata (Earleaf false foxglove; Orobanchaceae). Reducing deer browse and removing brush each positively affect plant vital rates. Brush removal increases the proportion of plants that reach the largest size class. Reducing deer browse increases the fertility of plants, particularly those in the largest size class. We report on demographic matrix models created with data from five populations of A. auriculata studied across 4 years. We find that both management activities positively affect the non-target plant species and are, in fact, necessary for A. auriculata to persist. Conservation of A. auriculata at our study sites requires both reducing the density of white-tailed deer and brush removal. Our study demonstrates that management at the community and ecosystem levels can be compatible with conservation goals at the species and population levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)798-805
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Conservation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009


  • Annual plant
  • Community-level management
  • Matrix projection models
  • Plant-herbivore interactions
  • Population viability analysis
  • Prairie restoration
  • Prescribed fire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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