The National Park Service's Matt Cooke measures a spreading avens plant
Each summer, a team of biologists from the National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, Archbold Biological Station, the state of North Carolina, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service bushwhacks across some of the highest peaks in the Southern Appalachians to collect data on spreading avens, an endangered plant. Weather on these peaks varies from clear skies with bright sun, to mid-summer frigid temperatures, to thunderstorms with lightening that forces people quickly to shelter. The terrain is steep, and often ropes and harnesses are required to reach the plants.
Over ten years of data on growth, reproduction, and death will help biologists determine the long-term health of these spreading avens populations and further, it will give them a clearer picture of what is truly needed to have a self-supporting, viable population - knowledge which will direct where future resources are devoted in the effort to recover this plant and remove it from the endangered species list.
Credit: Gary Peeples/USFWS