Successful transplantation of a hart's tongue fern population (Asplenium scolopendrium L.) with ten years of monitoring.
At the edge of the Harz Mountains in Lower Saxony a population of the hart's tongue fern (Asplenium scolopendrium) threatened by destruction by a gypsum quarry were transplanted into a dolina which was not populated by the species at that time, and the new population was followed over ten years. 90% of the 59 transplanted plants survived this period and grew larger during the first six years after transplantation. Progenies appeared in the third year after transplantation. Nowadays, in the tenth year after transplantation, there are 1110 progenies, 171 of which are reproducing. Overall, the population increased by 1781% in the ten years. Plants that were planted on a rocky slope or a boulder heap in the new habitat, where soil was available, grew better than plants in rock faces without soil. In contrast, in the rock faces, where substrate was not covered with autumn foliage, more juveniles established. The distance between juveniles and mother plants rarely exceeded three meters, which indicates a limited dispersal potential of the hart's tongue fern and may explain together with low diaspore pressure as a result of local rarity of the species that the dolina had not been colonized spontaneously. We conclude that transplantations of adult plants or introduction of spores are a suitable measure for preserving hart's tongue fern populations that are endangered by destruction. In the long run, however, such measures cannot compensate for ongoing destruction of natural habitats by mining activities in the gypsum karst region at the southern edge of the Harz Mountains.