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25 April 2019, Volume 41 Issue 02
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  • Editorial
    Recovering threatened plant species and their habitats: The need for integrated action
    2019, 41(02):  33-35.  doi:10.1016/j.pld.2019.03.002
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    As an introduction to the Special Issue on the restoration of threatened plant species and their habitats, this editorial shows how the various papers in the issue address the range of in situ interventions involved in species population management and restoration of their habitat, together with examples of case studies implementing these actions. It stresses the need for integrating these various interventions. It highlights the importance of protected areas in providing a degree of protection for threatened species but also the need to complement this with actions at the species level to ensure the effective conservation and long term persistence of these species. It emphasizes that ecological restoration is a complement to, not a substitute for conservation, and that the balance of effort and allocation of resources between them is a key issue.
    Conserving plants within and beyond protected areas—till problematic and future uncertain
    Vernon H. Heywood
    2019, 41(02):  36-49.  doi:10.1016/j.pld.2018.10.001
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    Against a background of continuing loss of biodiversity, it is argued that for the successful conservation of threatened plant species we need to ensure the more effective integration of the various conservation actions employed, clarify the wording of the CBD targets and provide clearer operational guidance as to how they are to be implemented and their implementation monitored. The role and effectiveness of protected areas in conserving biodiversity and in particular plant species in situ are discussed as are recent proposals for a massive increase of their extent. The need for much greater effort and investment in the conservation or protection of threatened species outside protected areas where most plant diversity occurs is highlighted. The difficulties involved in implementing effective in situ conservation of plant diversity both at an area- and species/population-based level are discussed. The widespread neglect of species recovery for plants is noted and the desirability of making a clearer distinction between species recovery and reintroduction is emphasized. Key messages from a global overview of species recovery are outlined and recommendations made, including the desirability of each country preparing a national species recovery strategy. The projected impacts of global change on protected areas and on species conservation and recovery, and ways of addressing them are discussed.
    Conservation-oriented restoration—a two for one method to restore both threatened species and their habitats
    Sergei Volis
    2019, 41(02):  50-58.  doi:10.1016/j.pld.2019.01.002
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    There is an urgent need for a new conservation approach as mere designation of protected areas, the primary approach to conserving biodiversity, revealed its low conservation efficiency and inability to cope with numerous challenges faced by nature in the Anthropocene. The paper discusses the new concept, which proposes that ecological restoration becomes an integral part of conservation planning and implementation, and is done using threatened plant species that are introduced not only into locations where they currently grow or grew in the recent past, but also into suitable locations within their potential distribution range. This new concept is called conservation-oriented restoration to distinguish it from the traditional restoration. Although the number of restoration projects focusing on recreation of once existing natural habitats is instantly growing, the majority of ecological restoration projects, in contrast to conservation-oriented restoration, have predominantly utilitarian goals, e.g. improvement or air quality, erosion control or soil replenishment. Conservation-oriented restoration should not be seen as an alternative either to the latter, or to the conservation dealing with particular threatened species (species-targeted conservation). These three conservation approaches, traditional ecological restoration, species-targeted conservation, and conservation-oriented restoration differ not only in broadly defined goals and attributes of their targets, but also in the types of ecosystems they are applicable to, and complement each other in combating global deterioration of the environment and biodiversity loss.
    Recovery of threatened plant species and their habitats in the biodiversity hotspot of the Southwest Australian Floristic Region
    Leonie Monks, Sarah Barrett, Brett Beecham, Margaret Byrne, Alanna Chant, David Coates, J. Anne Cochrane, Andrew Crawford, Rebecca Dillon, Colin Yates
    2019, 41(02):  59-74.  doi:10.1016/j.pld.2018.09.006
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    The Southwest Australian Floristic Region (SWAFR) is a global biodiversity hotspot with high plant diversity and endemism and a broad range of threatening processes. An outcome of this is a high proportion of rare and threatened plant species. Ongoing discovery and taxonomic description of new species, many of which are rare, increases the challenges for recovery of threatened species and prioritisation of conservation actions. Current conservation of this diverse flora is based on integrated and scientific evidence-based management. Here we present an overview of current approaches to the conservation of threatened flora in the SWAFR with a focus on active management through recovery and restoration that is integrated with targeted research. Key threats include disease, fragmentation, invasive weeds, altered fire regimes, grazing, altered hydro-ecology and climate change. We highlight the integrated approach to management of threats and recovery of species with four case studies of threatened flora recovery projects that illustrate the breadth of interventions ranging from In situ management to conservation reintroductions and restoration of threatened species habitats. Our review and case studies emphasise that despite the scale of the challenge, a scientific understanding of threats and their impacts enables effective conservation actions to arrest decline and enhance recovery of threatened species and habitats.
    Conserving and restoring the Caicos pine forests: The first decade
    Michele Dani Sanchez, Bryan Naqqi Manco, Junel Blaise, Marcella Corcoran, Martin Allen Hamilton
    2019, 41(02):  75-83.  doi:10.1016/j.pld.2018.05.002
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    The severe and rapid attack on the Caicos pine Pinus caribaea var. bahamensis (Pinaceae) by the nonnative invasive pine tortoise scale, Toumeyella parvicornis, has resulted in the death of most of the trees in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) in just over a decade. Local and international conservation efforts have enabled the necessary multi-disciplinary research, data gathering, and monitoring to develop and implement a restoration strategy for this endemic tree from the Bahaman archipelago. The native plant nursery established on North Caicos and horticultural expertise acquired throughout the years were crucial to the successful rescue of Caicos pine saplings from the wild populations and cultivation of new saplings grown from locally sourced seeds. These saplings have been used to establish six Restoration Trial Plots on Pine Cay and a seed orchard on North Caicos in TCI. Core Conservation Areas (CCAs) for the Caicos pine forests have been identified and mapped. To date, forest within the Pine Cay CCA has been supplemented by planting more than 450 pine trees, which have survived at a high (>80%) rate.
    Species diversity in restoration plantings: Important factors for increasing the diversity of threatened tree species in the restoration of the Araucaria forest ecosystem
    Taylor E. Shaw
    2019, 41(02):  84-93.  doi:10.1016/j.pld.2018.08.002
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    The Araucaria forest ecosystem in southern Brazil is highly threatened: less than one percent of the original forest remains, and what is left is a fragmented agro-mosaic of mostly early-to-late secondary forest patches among high-yield agriculture and timber monocultures. Forest restoration initiatives in this region aim to restore degraded areas, however the limited number of species used in restoration projects represents a missed opportunity for species-rich plantings. High diversity plantings represent a larger number of functional groups and provide a targeted conservation strategy for the high number of threatened species within this ecosystem. This study interviewed nurseries (Ns) and restoration practitioners (RPs) in Paraná and Santa Catarina states to identify what species are being cultivated and planted, and what factors are driving the species selection process. An average of 20 species were reportedly used in restoration plantings, most of which are common, widespread species. Baseline data confirms that Ns and RPs have disproportionately low occurrences of threatened species in their inventories and plantings, supporting findings from previous research. Questionnaire responses reveal that opportunities for seed acquisition are an extremely important factor in order for nurseries to increase their diversity of cultivated species. Results also suggest that facilitating speciesrich plantings for restoration practitioners would only be feasible if it did not increase the time required to complete planting projects, as it would minimize their ability to keep costs low. This study proposes solutions for increasing the number of species used in restoration practicedsuch as developing a comprehensive species list, fostering knowledge-sharing between actors, creating seed sharing programs, and increasing coordination of planting projects. Long-term strategies involve complimenting traditional ex situ approaches with emerging inter-situ and quasi in situ conservation strategies which simultaneously provide long-term preservation of genetic diversity and increase seed production of target species.
    An early evaluation of translocation actions for endangered plant species on Mediterranean islands
    Giuseppe Fenu, Gianluigi Bacchetta, S. Christodoulou Charalambo, Christini Fournaraki, Gian Pietro Giusso del Galdo, Panagiota Gotsiou, Angelos Kyratzis, Carole Piazza, Magdalena Vicens, Maria Silvia Pinna, Bertrand de Montmollin
    2019, 41(02):  94-104.  doi:10.1016/j.pld.2019.03.001
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    In situ conservation is widely considered a primary conservation strategy. Plant translocation, specifically, represents an important tool for reducing the extinction risk of threatened species. However, thus far, few documented translocations have been carried out in the Mediterranean islands. The CareMediflora project, carried out on six Mediterranean islands, tackles both short- and long-term needs for the insular endangered plants through in situ and ex situ conservation actions. The project approach is based on using ex situ activities as a tool to improve in situ conservation of threatened plant species. Fifty island plants (representing 45 taxa) were selected for translocations using common criteria. During the translocations, several approaches were used, which differed in site selection method, origin of genetic material, type of propagative material, planting method, and more. Although only preliminary data are available, some general lessons can be learned from the experience of the CareMediflora project. Among the factors restricting the implementation of translocations, limited financial resources appear to be the most important. Specific preliminary management actions, sometimes to be reiterated after translocation, increase the overall cost, but often are necessary for translocation success. Translocation using juvenile/reproductive plants produces better results over the short term, although seeds may provide good results over the long run (to be assessed in the future). Regardless, plant translocation success can only be detected over long periods; therefore, proper evaluation of plant translocations requires a long-term monitoring protocol. Care-Mediflora project represents the first attempt to combine the existing approaches in a common plant conservation strategy specifically focusing on the Mediterranean islands.
    Translocation of Otostegia bucharica, a highly threatened narrowly distributed relict shrub
    Komiljon Tojibaev, Natalia Beshko, Sergei Volis
    2019, 41(02):  105-108.  doi:10.1016/j.pld.2019.01.005
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    Translocation is a recognized means of rescuing imperiled species but the evidence for the long-term success of translocations is limited. We report the successful translocation of reproductive individuals of a critically endangered shrub Otostegia bucharica from a site facing imminent habitat destruction into a nearby natural population of the species. The relocated plants were visited the year after planting and 13 years later to assess short- and long-term plant survival. Significant percentage of plants that survived transplanting shock and very dry spring following transplanting (around 36%), and further decrease of this number in the next 12 years by only 14%, indicated that O. bucharica is amenable to translocation using reproductive plants. Based on results of species distribution modeling, and failed attempts of ex situ cultivation, we propose introduction of this species into areas with suitable climatic and soil conditions. However, because there is currently no nature reserve in Uzbekistan having suitable conditions for the species under the present climate and that expected in the near future, and because all known habitats of O. bucharica are exposed to the very strong anthropogenic pressure, establishment of a new protected area, awareness building and involvement of local community in conservation activities are required to prevent extinction of this extremely rare species.
    Habitat suitability and herbivores determine reintroduction success of an endangered legume
    Matthew A. Albrecht, Quinn G. Long
    2019, 41(02):  109-117.  doi:10.1016/j.pld.2018.09.004
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    Reintroductions of rare plants require detailed knowledge of habitat requirements, species interactions, and restoration techniques. Thus, incremental experimentation over many years may be required to develop adequate knowledge and techniques for successful reintroduction. To determine drivers of extinction in historical reintroductions of a federally endangered perennial (Astragalus bibullatus), we developed a reintroduction experiment to disentangle the relative importance of habitat quality, herbivores, and restoration technique on reintroduction success. In a factorial design, we manipulated access to vertebrate herbivores across different habitat types (mesic ecotone vs. xeric barren), and used founder populations comprised of more transplants and genetic sources than previous reintroduction attempts. In mesic ecotones where historical reintroductions failed, excluding herbivores, thinning woody encroachment to improve habitat quality, outplanting across a greater array of microhabitats, and increasing founder population size did not improve demographic rates over previous attempts. Compared to mesic ecotones, transplant survival rates and cumulative fruit production were more than two and ten times greater, respectively, in a xeric barren ecotone characterized by open, grassy, and dry microenvironmental conditions. Across all sites, herbivores decreased probabilities of survival and flowering of larger adult plants. Flowering rates were 80% greater inside relative to outside herbivore exclusion cages. Over a four-year period, only a single uncaged plant produced fruit. Our study demonstrates that habitat quality and vertebrate herbivory are key drivers of long-term persistence in rare plant reintroductions. Using incremental experiments that build on previous knowledge gained from long-term monitoring can improve reintroduction outcomes.
    Planting position and shade enhance native seedling performance in forest restoration for an endangered malagasy plant
    Cyprien Miandrimanana, J. Leighton Reid, Tahiry Rivoharison, Chris Birkinshaw
    2019, 41(02):  118-123.  doi:10.1016/j.pld.2018.09.005
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    The critically endangered tree Schizolaena tampoketsana is confined to a few diminished and degraded forest fragments on the Malagasy highlands. This habitat is vulnerable to loss due to frequent fires in the surrounding grassland that threaten to spread into the forest. One of these fragments is the focus a conservation project and here the managers aim to conserve S. tampoketsana by restoring its forest habitat to its former extent as evidenced by remnant woody plants. To inform this activity the survival and early-stage growth of seedlings of four locally native tree species were compared under contrasting conditions of proximity to the remaining forest and shade. After 12 months, seedlings of three species (Baronia taratana, Eugenia pluricymosa, Uapaca densifolia) survived better and experienced improved growth in height in grassland close to the existing forest rather than distant from it, and two survived better with shade rather than unshaded. A number of mechanisms could explain these results including reduced exposure to desiccating sunlight and winds and better soil and greater water availability close to the forest. The seedlings of one species (Nuxia capitata) survived well under all conditions. This study suggests that reforestation in these dry highlands is most feasible adjacent to remnant forest fragments and in microhabitats that minimize water loss, though young plants of some tree species may be capable of surviving in harsher conditions.
    Capturing, protecting and restoring plant diversity in the UK: RBG Kew and the Millennium Seed Bank
    Ted Chapman, Stephanie Miles, Clare Trivedi
    2019, 41(02):  124-131.  doi:10.1016/j.pld.2018.06.001
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    Ex situ seed banking is a practical and cost-effective means of preserving wild plant diversity and a crucial complement to the in situ conservation and restoration of species and habitats. As pressures on the natural environment have grown, so has the call for seed banks to provide scientifically-robust, practical solutions to seed-related problems in nature conservation, from single-species recovery and reintroduction to the restoration of complex, dynamic communities at the largest scales. In this paper, we discuss how the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and its Millennium Seed Bank have responded to this call in the United Kingdom. We demonstrate that banked seed collections can provide a range of otherwiseunavailable, high quality, known-origin, genetically-diverse biological materials. The data, expertise and specialist facilities that accompany these collections are also valuable, helping overcome constraints to the collection, production and effective use of native seed. Challenges remain - to ensure ex situ collections protect the species and genetic diversity that will enable plants to adapt to a changing environment, and to find new ways for seed banks to mobilise their resources at a landscape scale.