The Demography of Gentiana autumnalis in Populations Under Varying Management Regimes in New Jersey


Ryan R. Rebozo

Additional Authors:

Lena Struwe, Walter F. Bien


Aug – 2019


disturbance, fire management, Gentianaceae, Pine Barrens, population ecology

Please note that the initial PDF issued was paginated incorrectly.  The correctly paginated article appears at this link.


Gentiana autumnalis (pine barren gentian) is a rare, fall-flowering perennial that is endemic to pine barren habitat from New Jersey to South Carolina. This disturbance-adapted, early successional species is at risk in New Jersey as a result of human interactions, namely growing season mowing and fire suppression. We used a repeated measures design to compare the differences between managed (mowing and prescribed fire) and unmanaged G. autumnalis populations for density, life stage, mortality, and fecundity. Managed populations had a greater gentian density, proportion of reproductive individuals, and seedlings compared to unmanaged populations. Implementing prescribed burns and mowing at previously unmanaged sites prior to spring growth increased gentian density, flowering, and seed set the same year. Our data support that prescribed burning and mowing can be beneficial management tools for the conservation of G. autumnalis and other disturbanceadapted species that require open early-successional habitat. However, their implementation can have negative consequences if conducted during the growing season, especially for roadside populations that are periodically mowed. Declining rare plant populations have the potential to benefit from management practices that facilitate ideal growing conditions and influence life stage transitions that will best improve population growth rate over time.