Plant Diversity ›› 2022, Vol. 44 ›› Issue (04): 351-359.DOI: 10.1016/j.pld.2022.03.004

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Phylogenetic endemism of the orchids of Megamexico reveals complementary areas for conservation

Brandon E. Gutiérrez-Rodrígueza, Marilyn Vásquez-Cruzb, Victoria Sosaa   

  1. a Instituto de Ecología AC, Carretera Antigua a Coatepec 351, El Haya, 91073 Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico;
    b Unidad de Genomica Avanzada, Laboratorio Nacional de Genómica para La Biodiversidad, Centro de Investigación y Estudios Avanzados Irapuato, Libramiento Norte Carretera Leon Km. 9.6, 36821 Irapuato, Guanajuato, Mexico
  • Received:2021-12-07 Revised:2022-03-10 Online:2022-06-25 Published:2022-08-13
  • Contact: Brandon E. Gutierrez-Rodríguez,
  • Supported by:
    We are grateful to Arturo Castro, Arturo de Nova, Milton Díaz, Alejandro Espinosa de los Monteros and Alejandro Torrese-Montúfar for their insightful reviews of this paper. We thank Bianca Delfosse for her editorial work on our English version. The study was carried out with the support of CONACyT, which awarded an M.Sc. scholarship to BEGR (CVU935962) through the Instituto de Ecología, A. C.

Abstract: Orchid diversity provides a unique opportunity to further our understanding of biotic and abiotic factors linked to patterns of richness, endemism, and phylogenetic endemism in many regions. However, orchid diversity is consistently threatened by illegal trade and habitat transformation. Here, we identified areas critical for orchid conservation in the biogeographic province of Megamexico. For this purpose, we evaluated orchid endemism, phylogenetic diversity, and phylogenetic endemism within Megamexico and characterized orchid life forms. Our results indicate that the majority of the regions with the highest estimates of endemism and phylogenetic endemism are in southern Mexico and northern Central America, mostly located on the Pacific side of Megamexico. Among the most important orchid lineages, several belong to epiphytic lineages such as Pleurothallidinae, Laeliinae and Oncidiinae. We also found that species from diverse and distantly related lineages converge in montane forests where suitable substrates for epiphytes abound. Furthermore, the southernmost areas of phylogenetic diversity and endemism of Megamexico are in unprotected areas. Thus, we conclude that the most critical areas for orchid conservation in Megamexico are located in southern Mexico and northern Central America. We recommend that these areas should be given priority by the Mexican system of natural protected areas as complementary conservation areas.

Key words: Epiphytes, Geophytes, Orchids, Phylogenetic endemism, Weighted endemism