Measuring the fate of plant diversity: Towards a foundation for future monitoring and opportunities for urgent action

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB, UK.
Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences (Impact Factor: 7.06). 03/2005; 360(1454):359-72. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2004.1596
Source: PubMed


Vascular plants are often considered to be among the better known large groups of organisms, but gaps in the available baseline data are extensive, and recent estimates of total known (described) seed plant species range from 200000 to 422000. Of these, global assessments of conservation status using International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categories and criteria are available for only approximately 10000 species. In response to recommendations from the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity to develop biodiversity indicators based on changes in the status of threatened species, and trends in the abundance and distribution of selected species, we examine how existing data, in combination with limited new data collection, can be used to maximum effect. We argue that future work should produce Red List Indices based on a representative subset of plant species so that the limited resources currently available are directed towards redressing taxonomic and geographical biases apparent in existing datasets. Sampling the data held in the world's major herbaria, in combination with Geographical Information Systems techniques, can produce preliminary conservation assessments and help to direct selective survey work using existing field networks to verify distributions and gather population data. Such data can also be used to backcast threats and potential distributions through time. We outline an approach that could result in: (i) preliminary assessments of the conservation status of tens of thousands of species not previously assessed, (ii) significant enhancements in the coverage and representation of plant species on the IUCN Red List, and (iii) repeat and/or retrospective assessments for a significant proportion of these. This would result in more robust Sampled Red List Indices that can be defended as more representative of plant diversity as a whole; and eventually, comprehensive assessments at species level for one or more major families of angiosperms. The combined results would allow scientifically defensible generalizations about the current status of plant diversity by 2010 as well as tentative comments on trends. Together with other efforts already underway, this approach would establish a firmer basis for ongoing monitoring of the status of plant diversity beyond 2010 and a basis for comparison with the trend data available for vertebrates.

Download full-text


Available from: Thomas R Meagher,
  • Source
    • "Leguminosae is the world's third largest angiosperm family and species in this family are important components of the Malagasy flora (Du Puy et al., 2002). Moreover, legume species are present in all major terrestrial ecosystems and as such this family is a useful proxy for evaluating global patterns of angiosperm diversity (Nic Lughadha et al., 2005). In order to conduct a comparative investigation of patterns of genetic variation at the species level, we chose two species of Delonix (Leguminosae) in Madagascar as the focal species for the present study – Delonix decaryi (R.Vig.) "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The best known system for classifying threat status of species, the IUCN Red List, currently lacks explicit considerations of genetic diversity, and consequently may not account for potential adaptation of species to future environmental change. To address this gap, we integrate range-wide genetic analysis with IUCN Red List assessments. We calculated the loss of genetic diversity under simulated range loss for species of Delonix (Leguminosae). Simulated range loss involved random loss of populations and was intended to model ongoing habitat destruction. We found a strong relationship between loss of genetic diversity and range. Moreover, we found correspondence between levels of genetic diversity and thresholds for ‘non-threatened’ versus ‘threatened’ IUCN Red List categories. Our results support the view that current threat thresholds of the IUCN Red List criteria reflect genetic diversity, and hence evolutionary potential; although the genetic diversity distinction between threatened categories was less evident. Thus, by supplementing conventional conservation assessments with genetic data, new insights into the biological robustness of IUCN Red List assessments for targeted conservation initiatives can be achieved.
    Global Ecology and Conservation 12/2014; 2. DOI:10.1016/j.gecco.2014.08.005
  • Source
    • "Vascular plants were used as a focal group since they are considered as suitable indicators of biodiversity and are relatively rapid to survey and identify. Also, as primary producers they play a critical role in supplying ecosystem goods and services, and are the single most important group of organisms in shaping habitats for other species (Lughadha et al., 2005; Pereira and Cooper, 2006). Field work for habitat recording and vegetation plots extended for two or three visits per site depending on the spatial heterogeneity and species diversity. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT. Located in the west of the Mediterranean and with high environmental heterogeneity, the Iberian Peninsula represents a challenging region for designing and implementing observation systems for landscape, habitat and species diversity indicators. Within the framework of a project designed to set up a European Biodiversity Observation Network (EBONE), a standardized protocol for field survey was used in pilot sites located across a major gradient in Portugal and Spain. Results are presented and compared to assess the efficiency of the method in detecting patterns along this gradient. These sites represent different types of Iberian landscapes selected using a stratified random procedure implemented in the Madrid province (Spain) and in the north of Portugal. Species and habitat richness and diversity (as well as their components) are compared in their relation to environmental gradients and survey area. Results from spatial analyses of landscape heterogeneity are also presented and discussed in relation to appropriate indicators. The implications for setting up cost-efficient observation schemes that capture the key indicators effectively are discussed. Perspectives for integration with complementary monitoring schemes targeted at key species, habitat and landscape indicators are also discussed in order to optimize the power and efficiency of these observation networks.
    Ecological Indicators 10/2013; 33. DOI:10.1016/j.ecolind.2012.12.004 · 3.44 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "As a result, dipterocarps are the best studied component of the flora of Borneo, and serve as an appropriate model for developing and testing rapid assessment strategies. Approximately 58 percent of all dipterocarps have been evaluated for the IUCN Red List, of which 94 percent are listed as endangered (Nic Lughadha et al. 2005), although there is uncertainty over the accuracy of these assessments (Chen 2004). In this study, we compared estimates of habitat loss based on reductions in the EOO, AOO and predicted distributions determined by ecological niche modeling for 33 dipterocarp species in Sabah. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Borneo has experienced a rapid decline in the extent of forest cover, which has reduced the amount of habitat available for many plant and animal species. The precise impact of habitat loss on the conservation status of dipterocarp trees is uncertain. We use three contrasting techniques, the extent of occurrence, area of occupancy and ecological niche models derived using maxent, in conjunction with a current land-use map of Sabah, to derive estimates of habitat loss and infer a regional IUCN Red List conservation status for 33 Sabah dipterocarp species. Estimates of habitat loss differed significantly according to the methods employed and between species on different habitat types. Proportion of habitat loss determined from the ecological niche models varied from 21 percent for Shorea micans to 99.5 percent for Dipterocarpus lamellatus. Thirty-two of the 33 dipterocarp species analyzed in this study would have their Sabah populations classified as Threatened (equal to a habitat loss of > 30%) under the A2 IUCN Red List criterion. Dipterocarps that occur in lowland forests have experienced greater habitat loss than upland/lower montane or ultramafic species. In addition, species with the lowest predicted area within their historic distributions had the highest proportion of habitat lost, which provides a rationale for targeting conservation effort on the species with narrow distributions. We recommend the ecological niche modeling approach as a rapid assessment tool for reconstructing species’ historic distributions during conservation assessments of tropical trees. Liputan hutan yang berkurangan dengan cepat telah mengakibatkan kehilangan habitat−habitat yang sesuai bagi kebanyakan spesies tumbuhan dan haiwan di Borneo. Kesan kehilangan habitat ini terhadap status pemuliharaan famili tumbuhan Dipterokarpa adalah tidak dapat ditentukan dengan terperinci.Tiga kaedah yang berlainan telah digunakan untuk memperolehi anggaran kehilangan habitat serta status pemuliharaan yang berdasarkan garis panduan ‘IUCN Red List’ bagi 33 spesies Dipterokarpa di Sabah. Kaedah−kaedah yang digunakan untuk tujuan di atas adalah: lingkungan kawasan kewujudan; kawasan yang diduduki; dan “Ecological Niche Modelling (ENM)” yang menggunakan program MAXENT, di mana peta penggunaan tanah di Sabah turut digunakan. Anggaran kehilangan habitat yang diperolehi melalui ketiga−tiga kaedah tersebut adalah amat berbeza mengikut kaedah yang digunakan dan perbezaan juga didapati dalam kajian anggaran kewujudan spesies di habitat yang berbeza. Dengan kaedah ENM, perbezaan adalah ketara dari segi kadar kehilangan habitat untuk spesies yang berlainan. Contohnya, kadar kehilangan habitat untuk Shorea micans adalah 21%, manakala Dipterocarpus lamellatus adalah 99.5%. Mengikut kaedah ini, 32 daripada 33 spesies dipterokarpa (97%) yang dianalisa dalam kajian ini akan diklasifikasikan sebagai terancam disebabkan kehilangan habitat yang melebih 30%, sepertimana yang terdapat di bawah kriteria A2. Spesies Dipterokarpa yang wujud di hutan tanah pamah telah mengalami kehilangan habitat yang lebih ketara berbanding dengan spesies yang wujud di hutan gunung atau hutan ultramafik. Di samping itu, spesies yang mempunyai ramalan taburan yang terpencil akan mengalami kadar kehilangan habitat yang tertinggi. Justeru itu, spesies yang mempunyai taburan yang terpencil harus diberi tumpuan dari segi usaha pemuliharaan spesies tersebut. Penggunaan “Ecological Niche Modelling” dicadangkan sebagai pilihan kaedah dalam merangka taburan spesis untuk program pemuliharaan bagi spesies pokok−pokok tropika.
    Biotropica 01/2012; 44(5):649–657. DOI:10.1111/j.1744-7429.2011.00852.x · 2.08 Impact Factor
Show more