SCAHTZ, GEORGE E.1, CHRISTOPHER BIRKINSHAW2, PORTER P. LOWRY II1,3*, FALY RANDRIANTAFIKA2, AND FIDISOA RATOVOSON2. 1Missouri Botanical Garden, P.O. Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166-0299; 2Missouri Botanical Garden, Madagascar Research and Conservation Program, B.P. 3391, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar; 3Laboratoire de Phanérogamie, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, 16 rue Buffon, 75005 Paris, France. - Endemic plant families of Madagascar: integrating taxonomy and conservation.
Madagascar's eight endemic plant families (Asteropeiaceae,
Didymelaceae, Didiereaceae, Kaliphoraceae, Melanophyllaceae,
Physenaceae, Sarcolaenaceae, and Sphaerosepalaceae) comprise 19 genera
and ca. 100 species. These taxa are truly the "most endemic of
the endemics" among the island's remarkably rich flora (ca.
12,000 spp., ~85-90% endemic) and are thus of exceptional conservation
importance. An outdated taxonomic framework for most genera and
insufficient knowledge of the distributions, ecology and conservation
status of many species have precluded making sound recommendations for
their protection. Updated revisions now provide refined species
circumscriptions and documented distributions as a basis for
classifying species according to modified IUCN "risk of
extinction" categories. Using GIS technology, herbarium
collections are mapped with respect to protected areas, bioclimatic
zones, geological substrates, vegetation types, and human population
density; field studies then focus on species of conservation
importance (e.g., with restricted ranges or absent from protected
areas) to gather data on the number of sub-populations, area of
occupancy and extent of occurrence, regeneration, presence/absence in
protected areas, and predicted future population trends. Analyses of
29 species in three families (Asteropeiaceae, Melanophyllaceae and
Sphaerosepalaceae) show that at least 18 are currently classified as
"threatened"; GAP analysis indicates that 7 of these have
never been recorded in a protected area. Preliminary data on all ca.
100 species in the endemic families confirm this trend, and permit the
identification of several critical areas for their conservation, many
of which fall outside the current network of parks and reserves.
Key words: conservation, endemic vascular plant families, Madagascar, taxonomy