Plant Diversity ›› 2016, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (05): 233-237.DOI: 10.1016/j.pld.2016.07.001

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Conservation and fruit biology of Sichou oak (Quercus sichourensis, Fagaceae) – A critically endangered species in China

Ke Xiaa, Lei Fana, Wei-bang Sunb, Wen-yun Chenc   

  1. a. Germplasm Bank of Wild Species, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, China;
    b. Kunming Botanical Garden, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, China;
    c. Key Laboratory for Plant Diversity and Biogeography of East Asia, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, China
  • Received:2016-05-10 Online:2016-10-25 Published:2021-11-05
  • Contact: Wen-yun Chen
  • Supported by:
    The authors wish to thank Dr. Lin-bo Jia for his help during acorn collection and Ms. Hong-yuan Gao and Ying Yang for their assistance in the laboratory work. This work was supported by NSFCYunnan joint fund to support key projects (No. U1302262 and U1502231). We thank Dr. Xiang-yun Yang and Mr. Yun-gang Guo for their help for experimental facilities. All the experiments were conducted in the seed biology laboratory of the Germplasm Bank of Wild Species, KIB, CAS.

Abstract: Several conservation programs have been started for the critically endangered Sichou oak (Quercus sichourensis) since 2007. These programs include detailed field investigations, seedling cultivation and research on the fruit biology of the species. In this study, we first report on the five mature individual trees found in our 9-year field investigation. Thus far, a total of 10 mature individuals have been recorded. All Q. sichourensis trees are healthy and most produce healthy acorns. Acorns of Q. sichourensis are large with dry masses of 8.0–14.0 g. These acorns had high moisture contents at collection and died shortly after (7–28 d) when dried with silica gel. Characteristics of Q. sichourensis acorns varied between populations. Compared with the acorns from Funing, the acorns collected from Ceheng were bigger, more viable (germination percentage was up to 96%), less sensitive to desiccation, and germinated faster. Q. sichourensis occurs in regions with a distinct 5–6 month dry season. Habitat degradation is largely responsible for the rareness of Quercus sichorensis, but desiccation sensitivity of the acorns may also limit the regeneration of the species and potentially lead to its continued rareness. As a species with extremely small populations (PSESP), Q. sichourensis is facing high risk of extinction and should be defined as a Critically Endangered species in the global IUCN Red List.

Key words: Conservation, Cyclobalanopsis sichourensis, Recalcitrant seed, Desiccation-sensitive, Germination, Asian monsoon system