Rare plant species conservation

Tehmeena Chaudhry, Lucas Colantoni and Paul Kim

-One of the 3 conventions derived from the Rio Summit in 1992

Welcome to our tackk board! Here we will be posting about our BIOL4095 presentation on rare plant conservation efforts. -Tehmeena

Did you know?

-Over 8000 plant species worldwide are threatened with extinction
-Researchers recently estimated that between 22 and 47% of the world’s flora is in decline
-In the U.S. 744 plant species are federally listed as threatened or endangered

Many factors can contribute to loss of plant species (see Figure 5 from Schemske et al. 1994)

1) Anthropogenic habitat destruction

2) Competition from invasive species

3) Overharvesting

4) Pollution

*These threats can act synergistically*

Objectives of "Evaluating the approaches to the conservation of rare and endangered plants" a paper by Schemske et al. cited over 900 times!!!

1)Determine usefulness of research on rare plant conservation in conservation efforts

2)Review the importance of biological, political and economic constraints to recovery efforts

3)Review 98 species designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

4)Outline the crucial steps that should be considered in the recovery of endangered plants

Results of Schemske et al. paper

1) Rare and endangered plants have a small number of populations, restricted geographic ranges, narrow habitat requirements, and face a diversity of threats to their persistence

2) For most species, demographic information is far more useful in assessing status and in developing recovery efforts than genetic information

3) Agencies and private organizations involved in plant conservation would gain from sharing biological data on rare plants and details of the successes and failures of recovery measures --> Communication is KEY

The Development of recovery efforts requires a top-down approach, 3 main questions need to be answered

1) What is the biological status of the species; is the population size increasing, decreasing or stable?

2) What are the life history strategies that have the greatest effect on population growth and species persistence?

3) What are the biological causes of variation in those life history strategies that have a major demographic impact?

Schemske et al. (1994)

Political, economic and biological factors must be incorporated into management strategies

New theoretical and empirical tools are needed (i.e. GoBotany)



GoBotany is an interactive site that allows users to identify over 3,000 New England plants by using a Full Identification Key, including technical multiple-access and dichotomous keys to families, genera, and species! This is a great way to spread awareness and identify rare or endangered plant species!

Here's a link to the site, check it out! gobotany.newenglandwild.org

-193 of 195 countries are a party member of the CBD (Only USA, Andorra and Somalia have not signed the treaty)

-remarkable global political consensus

3 main goals of CBD:

-Conservation of biodiversity

-Sustainable use of the components of biodiversity

-Sharing the benefits of biodiversity in a fair and equitable way

"Our vision is of a positive sustainable future where human activities support the diversity of plant life (including the endurance of plant genetic diversity, survival of plant species and communities and their associated habitats and ecological associations), and where in turn the diversity of plants support and improve our livelihoods and well-being"

Functional Groups of rare plants differ in levels of imperilment (Farnsworth and Ogurcak, 2008)

Which plants do we save?

There are only a finite number of resources (money, effort) available to us to help conserve rare plants. Therefore, priorities have to be set by determining which plants require immediate attention. This paper describes certain traits and habitats of plants that correlate with higher population or range loss.

Farnsworth and Ogurcak (2008) quantitatively examined the effects of different life history traits of 71 rare plants. They identified trends associated with certain traits and habitats by looking at loss of populations and estimated range area lost (Farnsworth and Ogurcak, 2008).

Traits examined:

Pollination syndrome, symbiosis, clonality, dispersal, wetland status, calciphile, disturbance dependence, and range

4 of the 8 traits examined (pollination syndrome, dispersal, wetland status, range) showed significant differences in population loss and/or area range loss (Figure 1 and Figure 2)

This study by Farnsworth and Ogurcak (2008) comparatively analyzed a large sample of rare plant species and provided statistical analysis on the different levels of plant imperilment. This analysis is an especially useful tool when considering how to allocate conservation attention globally, as the finite resources available for the growing need of biodiversity conservation is currently a major problem.


Farnsworth EJ and Ogurcak DE. 2008. Functional groups of rare plants differ in levels of imperilment. Am J Bot. 95(8):943-953.

Schemske DW, Husband BC, Ruckelshaus MH, Goodwillie C, Parker IM and Bishop JG (1994). Evaluating Approaches to the conservation of rare and endangered plants. Ecology. 75(3): 584-606

Farnsworth, E. (2014). Conservation and management of rare plant species. Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/151427

Comment Stream

3 years ago

Did you know?

3 years ago

Good job! You pulled a lot of resources together and displayed it in a clear way. The multiple tackks freaked me out a bit. Maybe having links to them from the main tackk would help draw attention to them. Good example though! Oh, also mention what CBD stands for.