Eric S. Menges

Eric S. Menges
Archbold Biological Station · Plant Ecology Program

PhD, Botany, Univ. Wisconsin

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195
Publications
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Publications

Publications (195)
Article
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Vegetative dormancy, that is the temporary absence of aboveground growth for ≥ 1 year, is paradoxical, because plants cannot photosynthesise or flower during dormant periods. We test ecological and evolutionary hypotheses for its widespread persistence. We show that dormancy has evolved numerous times. Most species displaying dormancy exhibit life‐...
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1.Demography varies in response to multiple interactive drivers at varying scales. However, these relationships are often assessed piecemeal, particularly without consideration of drivers at the landscape‐level. 2.We developed a model to predict population dynamics of an endangered, perennial herb (Hypericum cumulicola) across a range of landscape...
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Premise of the study: Areas lacking dominant plants, or gaps, can support high diversity and specialist species. Previous chronosequence research in Florida rosemary scrub showed indistinct gap area patterns with fire and the dependence of certain species on gaps. We hypothesized that fire and gap size would affect extinction, colonization, divers...
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Cleistogamy (CL) in angiosperms historically has been understudied; however, its co-occurrence with chasmogamy (CH) across many plant species suggests a fitness advantage to maintaining this mixed-mating strategy. Maintenance of mixed-mating has been attributed to reproductive assurance, resource allocation or genetic trade-offs. Our goals were to...
Article
Fire management plans (FMP) are complex documents that receive little evaluation of whether their objectives are met. We evaluate the Archbold Biological Station (ABS) FMP for goals related to the fire regime (area burned, seasonality, severity, and fire return intervals). The goals include increasing the area burned with prescribed fires, burning...
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Ecological disturbances in ecosystems are often essential for the continued success of many species, acting to increase resource availability and allowing recruitment of new individuals. Fire, a common disturbance, has been shown to influence seed germination in many ecosystems worldwide. The goal of this study was to determine the effects of fire,...
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Polygala lewtonii is a federally endangered, amphicarpic plant with a mixed mating system and three types of flowers: (1) aboveground, chasmogamous flowers (i.e., open-pollinated; CH), (2) aboveground, cleistogamous flowers (i.e., closed, selfing; CL) and (3) CL flowers on belowground stems (amphicarpy). Aboveground seeds are ant-dispersed, whereas...
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Recovery of an imperiled plant species may require augmentation of existing populations or creation of new ones. Hundreds of such projects have been conducted over the last few decades, but there is a bias in the literature favoring successes over failures. In this paper, we evaluate a series of introductions that experimentally manipulated microha...
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In pyrogenic ecosystems, fire often plays an integral part in plant population dynamics. For a subset of plant species in such ecosystems, fire is connected to seed set and/or germination, resulting in postfire recruitment episodes. We investigated the relationship between fire and seed set in the perennial forb Liatris ohlingerae (Asteraceae), one...
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We collected data from 1998 to 2014 to describe the ecology of the highly endangered Florida scrub plant Crotalaria avonensis (Avon Park Harebells), and herein address several hypotheses based on what was known of its biology and the biology of co-occurring species. This perennial herbaceous legume occurs at 3 sites and prefers microsites with more...
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Roads have the potential to serve as dispersal corridors for invasion into pristine habitats for invasive exotic species. However, undisturbed habitats may also resist such invasion. Torpedograss (Panicum repens L.) is an aggressive invasive grass in many parts of the world and, although most problematic in lakes and ponds, frequently occurs in roa...
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Plants existing in small and isolated populations often depend on microclimatic refugia that create local environments buffered from macroclimatic conditions. Currently much effort is devoted toward identifying features that create refugial conditions in the expectation that they will continue to serve as refugia into the future. However, the abili...
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Euphorbia rosescens is a recently described plant that is narrowly endemic to the Lake Wales Ridge. Little is known of the ecology or life history of this diminutive, deeply rooted polygamodioecious perennial. We studied 13 subpopulations of this species from 2004–2012 from five habitats, sampling monthly during its growing season. Subpopulations w...
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Natural and anthropogenic disturbances co-occur in most systems, but how they interact to shape demographic outcomes remains poorly understood. Such interactions may alter dynamics of populations in non-additive ways, making demographic predictions challenging when focusing on only one disturbance. Thus, understanding the interactive effects of suc...
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Fire is a major factor in the ecosystem dynamics of upland Florida habitats. Fire impacts have been well studied in terms of plant community responses, but the effects of fire on soil characteristics and post-fire plant-microbial interactions in these systems remain poorly documented. We investigated the effect of fire intensity and pre-fire vegeta...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Eryngium cuneifolium is a gap specialist herb endemic to south central Florida rosemary scrub. Demographic patterns of E. cuneifolium at Archbold Biological Station are strongly driven by time-since-fire and life history stage and population models predict local extinction after 15 years without fire. Long term demogra...
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QuestionsThe ecology of landscape gaps is important for the maintenance of species diversity in a variety of plant ecosystems. In the scrubby flatwoods community type of the pyrogenic Florida scrub, we aimed to identify the relationship between time-since-fire, gap area, quality (microhabitat) and aggregation (structural connectivity) with neighbou...
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Evolution drives, and is driven by, demography. A genotype moulds its phenotype's age patterns of mortality and fertility in an environment; these two patterns in turn determine the genotype's fitness in that environment. Hence, to understand the evolution of ageing, age patterns of mortality and reproduction need to be compared for species across...
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Wetlands maintain biodiversity and provide numerous ecosystem services, so the pressure to perform successful restoration consequently is high. However, restoration projects rarely include an in-depth assessment of wetland potential for recovery, and restoration techniques may not be tailored to site-specific concerns. This study examined the seed...
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Balancing land management and restoration goals for ecosystems and for individual species can create challenges. Here we describe the responses of two federally endangered plants to experimental restoration of fire-suppressed xeric longleaf pine/wiregrass (sandhill) habitat on the Lake Wales Ridge in south-central Florida. We compared responses to...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods In order to optimize management strategies for the conservation of threatened species, it is critical to understand the interplay between the demography of a species and its environment. However, this is often difficult for species with complex demography. Liatris ohlingerae is a rare endemic herb native to the Lake Wa...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Although plant introductions are often performed and evaluated in an idiosyncratic manner, experimental introductions can be coupled with careful evaluation to provide tests of specific hypotheses related to introduction methods or ecological concepts. Here, we adopt a comparative method to evaluate the success of intr...
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Uncertainty associated with ecological forecasts has long been recognized, but forecast accuracy is rarely quantified. We evaluated how well data on 82 populations of 20 species of plants spanning 3 continents explained and predicted plant population dynamics. We parameterized stage-based matrix models with demographic data from individually marked...
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Seasonally flooded wetlands are periodically drained due to dry-season precipitation patterns. In the dry season, soil moisture can decrease to a level where wetland vegetation communities are subjected to drought stress. To understand the effects of drought conditions on the structure of seasonal wetland communities, we conducted a post-flooding r...
Article
Conservation of a threatened species requires knowledge of the factors that affect its recruitment, survival, and reproduction. We conducted a long-term study on the demography of Paronychia chartacea ssp. chartacea, a short-lived, gynodioecious Florida rosemary scrub endemic. Specifically, we assessed the effects of habitat (rosemary scrub vs. roa...
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Fire suppression in sandhill ecosystems leads to biotic impoverishment and reduces fine fuels needed for frequent fires. We investigated the restoration dynamics of a long-unburned endemic-rich sandhill on Florida's Lake Wales Ridge using prescribed fire with and without prior chainsaw felling of the hardwood subcanopy. Our goals were to promote su...
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Logging has recently been used as a restoration tool in Florida scrub, a pyrogenic shrubland ecosystem that often develops a pine canopy in the absence of fire. We studied the effects of logging and fire, alone and in combination, on fire-suppressed Florida scrub on the Lake Wales Ridge in south-central Florida. Restoration goals were both structur...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Understanding factors affecting demographic dynamics is a vital component of conservation. By discerning how vital rates change in response to population and environmental factors and their effect on population growth and structure, management strategies can be tailored to optimize conservation efforts. The perennial h...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Archbold Biological Station (ABS) is a non-profit facility dedicated to long-term ecological research, education, and conservation based in rural Highlands County, Florida. In a county where science subject-matter standardized test scores are regularly below average, supplemental education programs may be critical to f...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Gaps are open patches within the dominant vegetation and are an important structural component in many systems. Gaps within Florida scrub, a pyrogenic shrubland, serve as the preferred microhabitat for many endemic scrub species, including several federally endangered plants. Scrub gaps are characterized as areas devoi...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Florida rosemary (Ceratiola ericoides) is a foundation species, affecting the structure and function of Florida scrub by creating open gaps through strong competition and allelopathy. Existing research on the ecology and demography of Florida rosemary has primarily focused on its interactions with other species, compar...
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Demographic transition matrices are among the most commonly applied population models for both basic and applied ecological research. The relatively simple framework of these models and simple, easily interpretable summary statistics they produce have prompted the wide use of these models across an exceptionally broad range of taxa. Here, we provid...
Article
Metacommunity theory allows predictions about the dynamics of potentially interacting species' assemblages that are linked by dispersal, but strong empirical tests of the theory are rare. We analyzed the metacommunity dynamics of Florida rosemary scrub, a patchily distributed pyrogenic community, to test predictions about turnover rates, community...
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Fire drives the population dynamics of many plants. By following successive cohorts of Polygala lewtonii Small (Polygalaceae), a short-lived herb endemic to fire-maintained Florida sandhills, in both burned and unburned microsites, we investigated how fire affected vital rates throughout cohort lifetimes. We followed cohorts from before to 6 years...
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Although resprouting is recognized as a key post-disturbance response for plants, few studies have closely examined post-fire growth responses of resprouting species. Following a prescribed burn in Florida scrub, we compared intraspecific and interspecific growth patterns of 16 resprouting shrub species. We then examined how resprouting growth is r...
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Exclusion of fire from pyrogenic ecosystems often results in changes in vegetation structure and the loss of biodiversity. Where landscape context constrains the application of fire, managers are applying mechanical treatments in conjunction with or as a surrogate for fire. We compared the effects of prescribed fire, mowing, mowing followed by fire...
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Preventing the establishment of a non-native species is critical for ensuring the species does not become invasive, yet most non-native species will have little impact on their environment. Despite this, little is known about what influences whether a species will remain relatively benign, or whether it will cause economic or ecological harm. Under...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Frequent fire may constrain fire regimes supporting resprouting plants because carbohydrate stores may be exhausted after multiple resprouting episodes. We explored whether frequent fires or mowing (often used as a fire surrogate) would affect vigor and carbohydrate levels in eight species of resprouting shrubs dominan...
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The soil seed bank plays a central role in the regeneration of obligate seeding species in fire-prone habitats. We evaluated how seed density and species composition changed with time-since-fire in the Florida, USA, rosemary scrub community. Because fire affects habitat availability and plant demographic variation, we predicted that soil seed densi...
Article
Hurricanes have dramatic effects on forest vegetation, but their effects on shrublands have rarely been studied. We analyzed the effects of three 2004 hurricanes—among the strongest on record in Florida—on vital rates of 12 rare plant species of pyrogenic interior Florida scrub and sandhill. Tree damage varied by vegetation type (being highest in a...
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We explored models explaining population cycling in the annual Warea carteri. We modeled the life cycle of W. carteri and compared projected trajectories to independently observed trajectories (up to 16years) of plants in 74 patches in three populations. We built matrix models with an annual time step for two populations, including four stages, (re...
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Understanding and predicting changes in the abundance of natural populations is a central goal of ecology. These changes are influenced by a variety of exogenous processes (weather, floods, fire); variation in these processes leads to variation in vital rates (survival, fecundity) that may be positively or negatively correlated across the life cycl...
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Ecology Letters (2011) 14: 1–8 Matrix projection models are among the most widely used tools in plant ecology. However, the way in which plant ecologists use and interpret these models differs from the way in which they are presented in the broader academic literature. In contrast to calls from earlier reviews, most studies of plant populations are...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Long-term demographic data can provide information on variation in vital rates among years, sites and species that can be used to contrast life history syndromes. Here, we analyze vital rates from 14 species (nine of which are federally-listed) over as many as 22 years in Florida xeric uplands (Florida scrub and sandhil...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods While habitat loss and fragmentation remain the major threats to the persistence of rare and endangered plant species, low reproductive success may also contribute to extinction risk. As a result, introductions have become a necessary component in the recovery strategy of many imperiled species. We carried out two exper...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Dicerandra christmanii is one of the most critically endangered plant species on the Lake Wales Ridge, an ancient sandy upland in peninsular Florida and a biodiversity hotspot home to several dozen endemic species. Only five D. christmanii populations exist; all occur in gaps within shrub matrices in xeric oak-hickory...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Florida scrub contains a large diversity of endemic plant species. Many of these endemics occur mostly in gaps within a matrix of shrubs. Fire plays a critical role in reducing competition and altering the demography of these species. We formulated a model consisting of a system of periodic difference equations to evalu...
Article
Full-text available
Conservation of an imperiled plant species requires an understanding of its local occurrence and density in relation to habitat variation. Paronychia chartacea ssp. chartacea is a federally threatened species restricted to gaps in fire-maintained Florida rosemary scrub and to roadside sites that mimic scrub gaps. To assess the effects of time-since...
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If genetic variation is often positively correlated with population sizes and the presence of nearby populations and suitable habitats, landscape proxies could inform conservation decisions without genetic analyses. For six Florida scrub endemic plants (Dicerandra frutescens, Eryngium cuneifolium, Hypericum cumulicola, Liatris ohlingerae, Nolina br...
Article
Question: The role edges play in mediating the effects of disturbance is unclear. Bayhead tree islands, which experience above- and belowground fire, contain trees that recover from disturbance by seed (Pinus elliottii var. densa) and by sprouting (Gordonia lasianthus). How does distance-to-edge affect survival and post-fire response of trees with...
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Lightning- and human-ignited fires have shaped many of Florida's natural communities. Plant persistence in these habitats requires adaptation to survive high temperatures, ability to respond to aboveground tissue loss, or avoidance of these conditions through survival in unburned patches or in the soil seed bank. Limited distribution of many rare s...
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Although belowground biomass patterns are important in understanding aboveground re-sponses, few studies have quantified how belowground biomass changes in response to fire cycles. In this study, we determined if patterns of time-since-fire (TSF; range 3 yr to 25 yr) affect belowground and aboveground biomass in scrubby flatwoods, a type of Flor-id...
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Conservation of an imperiled plant often requires an understanding of its reproductive ecology. Scrub plum (Prunus geniculata) is an endangered Florida shrub endemic to pyrogenic xeric uplands. Although plants are long-lived and may flower profusely, particularly after burning, fruit yield is sparse and seedlings are rare. We investigated potential...
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Herbivores may negatively impact plants by reducing biomass and decreasing fecundity. Rare or endangered plants may be particularly vulnerable to herbivore damage. However, plants may compensate for herbivory by increased growth or reproductive output. We investigated compensatory growth and reproductive effort in Liatris ohlingerae (S.F.Blake) B.L...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods: Understanding a plant’s microhabitat requirements may provide context for spatial patterning on larger scales, as well as being an important tool for the conservation of rare species. This study quantitatively investigated the microhabitats of eight herb species that co-occur on Florida rosemary scrub—a unique, relati...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Understanding and predicting fluctuations in the abundance of natural populations is a central activity of ecology. Natural populations are inevitably under the influence of stochastic processes (weather, floods, fire); this environmental variation causes variation in vital rates (survival, fecundity) which may be positi...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Translocation is a necessary component in the recovery strategy for many imperiled species. However, long-term detailed demographic and genetic evaluation of translocation success is rare. Florida ziziphus (Ziziphus celata) is a genetically depauperate shrub known only from cattle pastures and fire-suppressed sandhills i...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Regularly fluctuating populations are of great interest to ecologists. Density dependent processes are often invoked to explain fluctuations, but fluctuations in “obligate biennial” plants can occur in the absence of density dependence. We review explanations and models for regularly fluctuating populations with an empha...