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Research - Padilla Bay


Padilla Bay Reserve Surveys

In 2006, David Giblin initiated a partnership with the Padilla Bay Estuarine Research Reserve to conduct comprehensive botanical surveys of their properties in and around Padilla Bay. David’s interest in these surveys resulted from his ongoing research projects on the flora of the San Juan Islands and the aquatic vascular plants of Washington. Padilla Bay sits on the eastern edge of the San Juan Archipelago, so its flora contributes to the species richness found in the islands to the west. The Reserve’s holdings include several small islands (Hat, Dot, and Saddlebag) that offer outstanding opportunities to compare species composition among islands at the eastern and western edges of the Archipelago.

Five collecting trips were made during 2006. In early May, David was joined by Ben Legler and Peter Zika to collect in the meadows around the Reserve’s Interpretive Center and on an upland holding on Samish Island at the Reserve’s northern edge. Peter Zika collected Geranium lucidum(shining crane's-bill) near the Interpretive Center, which represented the first documented occurrence in Washington State of this nonnative species that is invasive in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. In May and August, David, Ben, and Peter Dunwiddie of The Nature Conservancy surveyed the flora of 23-acre Saddlebag Island (NSF REU intern Jessica Ni participated in the August trip), where they collected over 150 plant species. Final trips were made in September and October to get the late-season species that occur in the Reserve’s salt marshes and gravelly shoreline areas around Padilla Bay.

In total, we made 251 collections of 185 taxa (species, subspecies, and varieties) and added 93 taxa to the existing plant list for the Reserve. The partnership between the Padilla Bay Estuarine Research Reserve and the UW Herbarium has expanded our knowledge of the coastal Washington flora. We are especially grateful to Dr. Douglas Bulthuis, Sharon Riggs, Paula Margerum, and Andrew Windham of the Padilla Bay Reserve for their guidance and logistical support (boat transportation to and from Saddlebag Island) for this project. Revenue from the Herbarium Endowment funded this work.

Ben Legler along beach on north side of Saddlebag Island.
Photo: David Giblin