Species identification of logs, planks, and veneers is difficult because they lack the traditional descriptors such as leaves and flowers. An additional challenge is that many transnational shipments have unreliable geographic provenance. Therefore, frequently the lowest taxonomic determination is genus, which allows unscrupulous importers to evade the endangered species laws. In this study we explore whether analysis of wood using a Direct Analysis in Real Time (DART) Time-Of-Flight Mass Spectrometer (TOFMS) can assist in making unequivocal species determinations of Dalbergia. DART TOFMS spectra were collected from the heartwood of eight species of Dalbergia and six other look-alike species. In all, fourteen species comprising of 318 specimens were analyzed and the species chemical profiles were examined by statistical analysis. Dalbergia nigra (CITES Appendix I) was differentiated from D. spruceana; D. stevensonii (Appendix II) was distinguished from D. tucurensis (Appendix III), and all the look-alike timbers could be readily distinguished. Surprisingly, D. retusa (Appendix III) could not be differentiated from D. granadillo, and we postulate that they are synonymous. We conclude that DART TOFMS spectra are useful in making species identifications of American Dalbergia species, and could be a valuable tool for the traditional wood anatomist.
Alerce (Fitzroya cupressoides (Mol.) Johnst.) and Guaitecas cypress (Pilgerodendron uviferum (Don) Florin) are two of the three closely-related species of conifers in the Cupressaceae that are endemic to southern Chile and Argentina. Both are listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES). The presence or absence of nodular (conspicuously pitted) end walls in the parenchyma cells provide good diagnostic characters to separate the two species wood anatomically, but the latter is sometimes difficult to distinguish. Therefore, a collaborative project was designed to study the chemical-molecular expression of these species by analyzing the heartwood using DART TOFMS (Direct Analysis in Real-Time (DART) Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (TOFMS). This study compares the anatomical features of heartwood for both species and demonstrates that anatomy in conjunction with chemistry can separate them. DART TOFMS analysis combined with PCA was able to unequivocally determine taxonomic source with a statistical certainty of 99%. The mass spectra results obtained from heartwood demonstrated that identification is feasible after a few seconds, using a very small sample. DART TOFMS is a robust tool for reliable species identification and is useful to identify the taxonomic source of finished products or timber that are suspected of being illegally harvested.
Diospyros L. (Ebenaceae) is an important source of ebony, a precious wood used for several economically important timber products. Species are overexploited in many regions, including Madagascar, for both the national and international trade, but little is known about their wood anatomy, despite its importance for forensic identification. Wood anatomy has a major role to play in ensuring the sustainable and equitable utilization of Diospyros species that are not threatened by extinction, and in law enforcement to protect threatened species from illegal logging. This study aims to identify, describe, and test the usefulness of anatomical features to support a taxonomic revision of the genus in Madagascar and to enrich databases for wood identification. Ninety-nine wood specimens were collected from the various bio-geographical regions of Madagascar, representing 15 endemic species (twelve previously described and three new) of large trees (reaching DBH ⩾ 20 cm and/or height ⩾ 20 m) were investigated. Standard methods for wood anatomical studies were used. Statistical analysis of the data using Factorial Analysis on Mixed Data was performed for 14 wood anatomical characters. Detailed descriptions and comparisons of the wood anatomy of the 15 species are provided, along with a wood identification key. Analyses showed that all the characters are highly significant () in the separation of the species studies.
Determining the species source of logs and planks suspected of being Araucaria araucana (Molina) K.Koch (CITES Appendix I) using traditional wood anatomy has been difficult, because its anatomical features are not diagnostic. Additionally, anatomical studies of Araucaria angustifolia (Bertol.) Kuntze, Araucaria heterophylla (Salisb.) Franco, Agathis australis (D.Don) Lindl., and Wollemia nobilis W.G.Jones, K.D.Hill & J.M.Allen have reported that these taxa have similar and indistinguishable anatomical characters from A. araucana. Transnational shipments of illegal timber obscure their geographic provenance, and therefore identification using wood anatomy alone is insufficient in a criminal proceeding. In this study we examine the macroscopic appearance of selected members of the Araucariaceae and investigate whether analysis of heartwood chemotypes using Direct Analysis in Real Time (DART) Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (TOFMS) is useful for making species determinations. DART TOFMS data were collected from 5 species (n =75 spectra). The spectra were analyzsed statistically using supervised and unsupervised classification algorithms. Results indicate that A. araucana can be distinguished from the look-alike taxa. Another statistical inference of the data suggests that Wollemia nobilis is more similar and within the same clade as Agathis australis. We conclude that DART TOFMS spectra can help in making species determination of the Araucariaceae even when the geographic provenance is unknown.