Endemic Plant Distributions in Eastern North America: Implications for Conservation
The conservation of rare plants is an important goal. Many rare plants are, in fact, endemics rather than remnants of once abundant populations. Plant endemics pose both challenges and opportunities for conservation. For eastern North America, there is a North-South gradient in endemic richness, with the highest concentrations in two parts of Florida and few endemics in the recently glaciated North. The hot spots of the Gulf and Atlantic Coastal Plain could all benefit from the restoration of natural fire regimes. Cedar glades, dolomite outcrops, balds, and granite outcrops, each containing their own endemic species, act as island archipelagos, with infrequent dispersal between them. This means that local extinctions (on a single patch) will not be restored by natural immigration on reasonable time scales. These shallow-soil communities also would be difficult to restore if denuded. The opportunity presented by these habitats is that many of them have low economic value and thus are cheap to protect and may occur as small patches within commercial forest. In addition, the pine savannah habitats are likely to have feasible dual conservation and timber management, grazing, and hunting uses if care is taken.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2006-12-01
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