Climate change is thought to threaten between 25% and 50% of global plant biodiversity. In response to this looming crisis, the calls for the translocation, or assisted migration, of species to ensure the survival of this biodiversity have been increasing. The concept has its detractors, and is not without risk, but few studies have documented the success of the approach or veracity of the risk. Here we review both the ecological restoration literature and the plant reintroduction literature to discover insights into the promises and pitfalls of translocating species as an adaptation strategy in the face of our changing climate. Although habitat restoration and the assisted migration of rare plant species have different objectives and goals, they share the practice of translocating species from their site of origin to a new one. It is primarily the scale at which the movement of those species occurs that distinguishes the two.
Plant conservation biology needs a new approach to cope with the rapid disappearance of species and ecosystems. This paper is an attempt to introduce such an approach via conceptual integration of conservation biology and restoration ecology in what can be called conservation-oriented restoration. Use of this term is limited to cases when restoration is applied to a still-functioning ecosystem, excluding cases when the destroyed ecosystem must be recreated or altered to a desirable state. The paper demonstrates the importance of habitat restoration for the majority of threatened species, and, although it may seem paradoxical, advocates usefulness of threatened plant species for restoration of natural habitats. It is proposed that threatened plant species should become an important part of many restoration projects and be 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. Because the number of potentially suitable locations can be close to zero if we consider only untouched natural habitats as suitable, the introduction sites should include those that require restoration efforts. The available literature is reviewed to show why and how ecological restoration should become an integral part of the conservation biologist's armory.
Plant conservation biology needs a new paradigm to stop ongoing environmental degradation and species loss. This paper provides detailed methodological guidelines for the conceptual integration of conservation biology and restoration ecology through “conservation-oriented restoration” as introduced in a companion paper. Based on the latest theoretical developments in community ecology and vast experience gained by researchers in restoration ecology and conservation biology, this paper provides recommendations, among others, for (i) identification of a reference ecosystem; (ii) making operational species lists for introduction; (iii) choosing optimal restoration in terms of planting design, plant number and density; (iv) collecting, storing and using seeds; and (v) addressing plant–animal interactions.
Climate change will impact several ecosystems, and the resilience of the weakest links of the ecological networks may be decisive in maintaining the ecological structure. The assessment of tendencies in the distribution and resilience of endangered medicinal species against global change can be an excellent tool to predict and minimize future negative effects, even more so if we consider that these species may be useful to us. Spain is one of the richest countries in plant diversity along the Mediterranean basin, and many representatives of the Spanish flora are medicinal plants. Under scenarios of climate change, the distribution ranges of many of these species are likely to alter. In this paper we used ecological niche modeling to predict future changes in the distribution of 41 medicinal plants included in the 2013 assessment of threatened species in Spain. We generated climate-based niche models for each medicinal species and projected them for each decade from 2010 until 2080. Our results identified and prioritized the most vulnerable species and areas to future predicted changes. These results should be useful for conservation planning and especially for prioritizing areas for protection.
The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) seeks to assess the conservation status of the world vascular plants by 2020, and to guarantee that at least 75% threatened taxa are conserved in situ. A comprehensive evaluation of IUCN categories for 7269 Spanish vascular plants (GSPC Target 2), using distribution data and environmental niche models, is presented. A gap analysis to assess the percentage of threatened plants effectively conserved in situ (considering national parks, plant micro-reserves and recovery or conservation plans) was also conducted (Target 7). The result is that only 44.4% threatened species are subject to an adequate in situ protection. An appropriate management of additional natural protected areas towards the conservation of threatened plants would make Spain meet this threshold, but severe deficiencies should be corrected. The methodology presented here is proposed as a tool to assess the degree of achievement of GSPC targets. This procedure can be quickly implemented and allows an easy evaluation of the progress, as well as the pending tasks in a given period of time.
Since 1998 the Valencian Community (Spain) has pioneered the establishment of plant micro-reserves (PMR), which has resulted in a network currently comprising 299 sites. The PMR are compatible with large protected areas including natural parks (NP, 22 areas). In fact, 73 PMR are included within the NP network (internal subnet of PMR) and 226 PMR are outside NP (external subnet). Here we analyze how the PMR network complements that of NP in capturing rare (RS, twp categories), endemic (ES, three categories) and endangered (TS, four categories) plants. The external subnet increases the number of plant species with territorial protection by 10.8% in RS, 15.8% in ES and 21.0% in TS categories. Additionally, when comparing number of species in the external and internal PMR subnets not shared with the alternative subnet type, the former has higher absolute and relative values for the nine categories analyzed. We propose that the internal network should be increased only to capture populations of the species that are not included in the external subnet.
Firewood is a vital energy source for cooking and heating in traditional societies worldwide. During the past century, increasing human populations have depleted many previously available resources, resulting in severe shortages of firewood in many regions, especially in arid zones. Here, I describe the use as a source of firewood for a local semi-nomadic Bedouin village of several dozen families and the fate of a 0.3 km2 abandoned fiber-crop plantation of Agave sisalana Perr. which is more than 50 years old in the Negev Desert, Israel. The amount of firewood extracted in the last decade equals several thousand local wild shrubs, which, in the current vegetation density, grow in a radius of several square kilometers. Harvesting the plantation for about 20 years almost fully exploited the plantation. Because the Bedouins do not replant plants used only for firewood, this source is not sustainable despite its biological potential to be so. However, because Agave are CAM (Crassulacean acid metabolism) plants, they can grow under very arid conditions, and because they are well defended from grazing by thorns and poisons, they may be planted as a source of firewood in various arid regions where other plants will not sustain.
Chemical elicitors, namely salicylic acid (SA), β-amino butyric acid (BABA), chitosan (CHT) and 2,6-dicholoroisonicotinic acid (INA), are known to play a role in the induction of plant resistance to pathogens by increasing the activity of enzymes of phenolic synthesis pathways such as peroxidase, polyphenol oxidase and phenyl alanine ammonia lyase. These chemical elicitors applied to tomato as an 8 h seed treatment, 2 h seedling treatment and seed plus seedling treatment increased the activity of peroxidase, polyphenol oxidase and phenyl alanine ammonia lyase. The highest increase in peroxidase and phenyl alanine ammonia lyase activity was induced by the seed plus seedling treatment with 15 mM β-amino butyric acid. The increase in these enzyme activities was 70.5% and 39.3% higher, respectively, over control, whereas the highest increase in polyphenol oxidase activity was induced by the seed plus seedling treatment with 1.5 mM salicylic acid. Polyphenol oxidase activity increased 137.9% compared to the non-treated control. Similarly, seed treatment as well as seedling treatment with the elicitors particularly salicylic acid, β-amino butyric acid and chitosan elicited increased activity of peroxidase, polyphenol oxidase and phenyl alanine ammonia lyase of the phenolic syntheses pathways, which are known to be the basic components of the resistance induction mechanism.
Autotoxicity is known to regulate density-dependent intraspecific competition in plants, but at the same time due to the effects on regeneration and hence population size, it may have implications for conservation. Nyssa yunnanensis is an endangered plant species with extremely small populations. There are only eight wild individuals left in Yunnan Province, Southwestern China. The mechanism governing the restricted ability for surviving in their natural environment is not known. In order to understand the causes of endangerment and take effective conservation measures, in situ and laboratory experiments were carried out to examine the autotoxicity of N. yunnanensis. In situ field experiments demonstrated that seed germination of N. yunnanensis was significantly inhibited by both litter and seed capsule. Extracts of different organs of N. yunnanensis had significant negative effects on its seed germination, and the inhibition rate of root extracts (80.9%) was significantly higher compared with the leaves and stems. Seedling growth also was suppressed by extracts of different organs, whereas no significant differences were found in the root/shoot ratio. The degree of inhibition of both germination and seedling growth increased with extract concentration. Soil experiments demonstrated also that seed germination and seedling growth were suppressed in soil where N. yunnanensis had previously grown. The results suggest that N. yunnanensis may negatively affect its natural regeneration through autotoxic effects on seed germination and seedling growth. Conservation strategies should be dedicated to ameliorating the autotoxic effects and enhancing natural regeneration. These may include litter clearance, activated carbon addition, and managed relocation.