Article

Prioritisation for the conservation of cultivated plants - a new approach

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Abstract

In this paper, the case for the conservation of plants that have arisen in cultivation is provided and the mechanisms for extinction discussed, with examples. The approach to cultivated plant conservation over the past 30 years is reviewed and a basis for revising that approach explained. A new, far more comprehensive and rigorous method for prioritisation is proposed. This has been developed for the Plant Heritage Threatened Plants Project.

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... Cultivated plant rarity and therefore level of threat, we have stated ( Morris et al 2010), derives from commercial availability and whether it still exists in gardens. Cultivars, of course, are not present in the wild to go back to. ...
Article
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Evaluating plant collections can significantly contribute to the efficient use of limited funds – but relatively few botanic gardens carry out such evaluations.
... From the gardens surveyed only 39% had a written policy Despite these limitations, the survey results did reveal some interesting information and it is hoped that this can be used as a basis for further investigation and case studies aiding the targeted approach to ex situ conservation. Cultivated plant rarity and therefore level of threat, we have stated (Morris et al 2010), derives from commercial availability and whether it still exists in gardens. Cultivars, of course, are not present in the wild to go back to. ...
Conference Paper
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Background/Question/Methods Assisted migration (AM), the purposeful introduction of lagging species to areas that are newly favorable as a result of climate change, is controversial because it a) has the potential to cause invasions by diseases and pests or by the introduced species itself; b) is currently practiced on an ad hoc basis; c) ignores the difficulties and failures inherent in reintroduction projects; and d) would have to be done repeatedly as species’ favored climates pass over areas into which they are introduced. Here we propose an institutional framework for “chaperoned” AM of plants, in which species are introduced from natural sources to semi-natural settings at botanical gardens. Botanical gardens offer the potential for monitoring of diseases and invasibility and can artificially ameliorate climate to ensure reintroduction success through, for example, irrigation and shading. A network of gardens, if located appropriately, could serve as “stepping stones” with each sequentially a “receiver” and “donor” from/to other gardens as climate changes. We analyze the current locations of the world’s 3106 botanical gardens to determine where, climatically and geographically, there would be gaps in the network of gardens capable of exchanging species under a chaperoned AM scheme. Results/Conclusions The coverage of botanical gardens varies by geographic location and climatic zone. Across continents, Africa has the lowest density of botanical gardens (131 total, or ~0.004 / 1000 km2) and Europe the greatest (842 total, or 0.08 / 1000 km2). Across climatic zones, the coldest “hardiness” and “heat” zones have the least representation in every biogeographic province, meaning that chaperoned AM could lead to an accumulation of species in the most poleward gardens unless further investments are made in establishing gardens as high latitudes become warmer. However, the potential intensity of translocations at each garden varies as a function of the diversity of the region from which it could translocate, making gardens located in warmer areas (but not the hottest areas) generally most important for maintaining diversity. Islands have few gardens relative to their richness, geographic spread, and area, suggesting that they must be paired with like climates on mainland areas to conserve their flora. Currently only 20% of the world’s botanical gardens belong to Botanical Gardens Conservation International, the world’s largest framework for conservation at botanical gardens. Hence, effort must concentrate not only on establishment of new gardens but also of infrastructure to support coordination of conservation activities.
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