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Angiosperm biodiversity, endemism and conservation in the Neotropics

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Abstract:

We analyze distributional patterns of Neotropical flowering plants between 38° N and 55° S. Along with identification of centers of angiosperm biodiversity and endemism, we explore range size patterns and discuss implications for angiosperm evolution and conservation. Based on monographic and herbarium specimen data, a database for Neotropical angiosperms was created containing distributional and ecological data of more than 4,000 species and subspecific taxa, representing approximately 5% of all Neotropical angiosperms. Maps of species richness and endemism at 1° grid resolution were produced using a geographical information system (GIS). We found that the distribution area of most species was small (1% or less of the total Neotropical area) and that centers of narrow endemism were irregularly distributed, not coinciding with the hypothesized Pleistocene refugia and diversity hotspots. Based on identified centers of narrow endemism and forest conversion rates, we estimate that approximately 100 narrow endemic species are lost annually. Areas rich in narrow endemics but without protection status according to the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) Consortium are recognized. Our results suggest that the success of long-term conservation of angiosperm diversity relies on future protection of areas covering a larger portion of the identified centers of narrow endemism.

Keywords: 1° GRID; ANGIOSPERMS; BIODIVERSITY; CONSERVATION BIOGEOGRAPHY; ENDEMISM; NEOTROPICS

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Systematic Botany and Botanical Garden, University of Leipzig, 04103 Leipzig, Germany 2: Systematic Botany and Botanical Garden, University of Leipzig, 04103 Leipzig, Germany;, Email: raedig@uni-leipzig.de

Publication date: November 1, 2007

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