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Abstract Detail

The Contribution of Regional Flora Projects to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation

Lorence, David H [1], Wagner, Warren [2].

Flora of the Marquesas Islands project.

The Flora of the Marquesas Islands is a collaborative multi-institutional project between the National Tropical Botanical Garden, Smithsonian Institution, and French Polynesian Government. The remote Marquesas Islands (French Polynesia) were selected because their flora was poorly known, they are a key to understanding interrelationships of Pacific floras, and they share certain floristic similarities with the Hawaiian Islands. This volcanic archipelago comprises 12 main islands situated within the Polynesia-Micronesia biodiversity hotspot, an epicenter of the current global extinction crisis. One of the most isolated groups of oceanic islands in the SE Pacific Ocean, the Marquesas lie over 5500 km from the west coast of Mexico, have a total surface area of 1072 km², range in size from 6.6 to 339 km², in elevation from 361 to 1276 m, and in age from 1.1 Ma to 5.5 Ma. The native vascular flora comprises 331 species and infraspecies including 100 ferns and lycophytes and 231 angiosperms, with 47% species endemism. Floristic affinities are with the Society Islands, other southern Polynesian archipelagos, the paleotropics, and to a lesser degree the Hawaiian Islands and the neotropics. Human colonization and introduction of non-native animals and plants have severely impacted the low- to mid-elevation vegetation. Eight field trips contributed to the discovery of 86 undescribed species, resulting in an 25% increase in the known native flora. Challenges included permit applications, logistics planning due to their remote location, and high costs. Voucher specimens, propagules, and leaf tissue for DNA sequencing were collected. The Marquesas Flora project has come to fruition with the publication in 2019 and 2020 of a two-volume book set totaling 1134 pages which includes introductory chapters covering the project’s history, geology and climate, a history of plant collecting, floristic composition and plant communities, threats, conservation status of species including IUCN Red List recommendations, critical conservation considerations, and many other aspects, as well as taxonomic treatments of the native and naturalized ferns, lycophytes, monocots, and dicots. The volumes are richly illustrated with 391 full page figures including 273 plates of color images and 84 illustrations. This is one of the first flora projects fully developed and presented in a web format launched in 2002. Field observations and specimens are fundamental for creating IUCN Red List assessments and protecting at-risk species through legislation and establishment of protected in situ conservation areas and targeting species for ex situ conservation in botanical gardens and seed banks.

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Related Links:
Flora of the Marquesas Islands website
National Tropical Botanical Garden website

1 - National Tropical Botanical Garden, Science and Conservation, 3530 Papalina Road, Kalaheo, HI, 96741, United States
2 - Botany, MRC-166 National Museum Of Natural History, PO Box 37012, Washington, DC, 20013, United States

French Polynesia.

Presentation Type: Colloquium Presentations
Session: C10, The Contribution of Regional Flora Projects to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation
Location: /
Date: Friday, July 23rd, 2021
Time: 1:15 PM(EDT)
Number: C10013
Abstract ID:262
Candidate for Awards:None

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