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Abstract Detail

Conservation Biology

Pence, Valerie [1], Beckman, Emily [2], Meyer, Abby [3], Pritchard, Hugh [4], Westwood, Murphy [2], Linsky, Jean [5], Gratzfeld, Joachim [6].

The Tip of the Iceberg: What We Do and Don’t Know About Exceptional Plants.

Seed banks are a critical tool in conserving threatened plants ex situ, but they are not an option for all taxa. Plant species that are unable to be conserved and recovered using conventional seed banking practice have been designated as exceptional plants. A definition of exceptionality has recently been put forward, describing four factors that contribute to this classification: 1) extremely limited seed availability, 2) a high level of seed desiccation intolerance, 3) relatively short seed longevity at -20oC, and 4) deep seed dormancy. Based on this definition, a Working List of Exceptional Plants has been created to focus attention on, promote, and facilitate the research and development necessary for their conservation. This list includes 775 species currently documented as exceptional, with 1 in 3 listed as threatened. These require immediate attention and the application of alternative methods, such as multi-institutional living collections and cryo-banking, for their conservation ex situ. Based on the number of species predicted to be desiccation sensitive, or recalcitrant (at least 28,000), which is only one of the four factors that can result in exceptionality, the Working List of Exceptional Plants highlights the immense gap in our knowledge of which species are exceptional. In addition, there are 17,603 species with some, but insufficient, data to suggest exceptional status, as well as 7,577 species that are threatened congeners of exceptional plants, and both of these groups should be prioritized for additional research from field botanists and seed biologists to clarify the status of these taxa. The List will be available online and new and updated information can be submitted. It can inform collections managers and conservation coordinators and provide focus for developing collaborative projects on alternative conservation strategies for exceptional species. Rapid advances in conserving these species will require research from a variety of fields including cryobiology, in vitro technology, plant physiology, seed biology, genetics, and horticulture. Clearly, plant species that are both threatened and exceptional will pose a special challenge for conservation, but only a small fraction of these have yet been identified. Identifying those species and the basis of their exceptionality are the first steps in creating a strategy for addressing the challenge and expanding ex situ conservation beyond seed banks, building the foundation for the conservation of all plant species. (This research was supported in part by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Garfield Weston Foundation, and Defra.)

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Related Links:

1 - Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife, 3400 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH, 45220, USA
2 - Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, IL, 60532, USA
3 - Botanic Gardens Conservation International US, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA, 91108, USA
4 - Wakehurst Place, Ardingly, West Sussex, RH17 6TN, United Kingdom
5 - Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Ave NE, Atlanta, GA, 30309, USA
6 - Botanic Gardens Conservation International, 199 Kew Road, Richmond, TW9 3BW, UK

exceptional species.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: CB03, Conservation Biology 3
Location: /
Date: Wednesday, July 21st, 2021
Time: 4:15 PM(EDT)
Number: CB03006
Abstract ID:761
Candidate for Awards:None

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