Author: GRETEL L. CLARKE – UMASS
Abstract: Rare plants in coastal New England sandplains are often restricted to sites disturbed by humans. On the central plain of Martha’s Vineyard, which has one of the highest concentrations of rare plant species in Massachusetts, disturbances include plowed and mowed firelanes. Little is known about pre-European rare plant habitat or how modern management impacts these species. To better understand the factors influencing the distribution of rare plants in coastal habitats, I examined the influence of vegetation structure, species composition, environmental characteristics and disturbance history on existing rare plant populations and potential natural habitat in the 2100-ha Manuel F. Correllus State Forest. This was accomplished by sampling more than 100, 100-m2 plots in firelanes (including 22 at rare plant occurrences) and forested/shrubland areas. I also conducted extensive searches for rare species.