How can we learn to better manage extremely rare plant species? We have recently developed an autonomous and high precision sensor system to monitor growth of individual native plants along with local environmental conditions at 30 minute intervals. The developed sensor array is unobtrusive, autonomous and when coupled with wireless data loggers can provide real-time data available to managers and the wider public. We are deploying an experimental set of these sensors, integrated with a webcam and a live web portal to showcase how this real time information can be useful to relevant managers while also raising awareness of the challenges of Hawaiian rare plant conservation in general. This plantCam system serves two main purposes: 1) Provide a methodology to help managers better understand the status of the individual/ species and relation to climate and wider environmental variability; and 2) Create a web portal that is essentially a plant version of 'critter cams' that allow people to connect directly with rare native plants. We expect this plantCam approach will result in detailed demographic, phenological, environmental information that help managers understand how rare species are affected by changing growing conditions; all while helping the general public learn more about the science and management of Hawaiian rare plant conservation.
This presentation will describe the plantCam system, its findings (and stories) we have observed since its deployment for monitoring a rare and endangered Cyanea calycina in the Waianae range in Oahu.