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Conservation of the endangered Pinus palustris ecosystem based on Coastal Plain centres of plant endemism

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Abstract:

Question: Can the geographic patterning of endemic plant species inform reserve selection in a region of high endemism?

Location: The southeastern Coastal Plain of North America, focusing primarily on the imperiled Pinus palustris (longleaf pine) ecosystem.

Methods: We documented the high level of plant endemism in the region, and characterized the endemic taxa into distributional subregions.

Results: A total of 1630 plant taxa are endemic to the Coastal Plain, a large proportion of which are endemic to phyto-geographical subregions within the Coastal Plain, with particularly large numbers of narrow endemics occurring in the East Gulf Coastal Plain and Florida Peninsula.

Conclusions: This pattern of local endemism presents challenges in conserving the full biota of the region: a reserve system focusing on few and large conservation areas has theoretical benefits for long-term management and viability, but will fail to capture many local endemics. We propose that the dispersed distribution of endemic species will require a mixture of large core reserves and smaller satellite reserves.

Keywords: BIODIVERSITY; BIOGEOGRAPHY; FLORIDA; LONGLEAF PINE; MID-ATLANTIC COASTAL PLAIN; SOUTHEASTERN NORTH AMERICAN COASTAL PLAIN

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-05-01

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