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Conservation of the Toromiro Tree: Case Study in the Management of a Plant Extinct in the Wild

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Abstract:

We reviewed the history and conservation of Sophora toromiro, a species that has been extinct in the wild since 1960 but has survived as scattered individuals in botanic gardens and private collections. The short-term conservation of S. toromiro is dependent on the management of surviving ex situ stocks. This is being achieved through international collaboration by a working group established to coordinate the conservation management of the species. Molecular evidence indicates that the species retains greater genetic variability than expected. The greatest amount of genetic variability was located in specimens outside botanic garden collections. No unmodified natural habitat survives on Rapa Nui ( Easter Island); so opportunities to establish a viable wild population are limited. Evidence from past reintroductions indicates that the best short-term opportunity for the species is through conventional horticultural management in botanic gardens and traditional farm plots on Rapa Nui. Some extinct-in-the-wild taxa (sensu World Conservation Union 1994), such as the Toromiro, retain genetic variability, and appropriate reintroduction sites exist. These taxa represent valid priorities for conservation management.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: IUCN/SSC Reintroduction Specialist Group and Conservation Projects Development Unit,Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AB, United Kingdom 2: Centre for Plant Systematics and Diversity, Plant Science Laboratories, The University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6AS, United Kingdom 3: Stad Botaniska Trädgården, S-413, Göteborg, Sweden 4: Department of Botany and Palaeobotany, J.W. Goethe-University and Research Institute, Senckenberg, Senckenberganlage 25, D-60325, Frankfurt, Germany 5: Laboratoire d'Ethnobiologie-biogeographie, Muséum National D'Histoire Naturelle, 57 Rue Cuvier-75231, Paris, France 6: Botanischer Garten der Universität Bonn, Meckenheimer Allee 170, D-53 Bonn1, Germany 7: Corporaçion Nacional Forestal Region del Bio Bio, Barros Arana 215, Concepción, Chile 8: Corporaçion Nacional Forestal, Rapa Nui National Park, Rapa Nui, Chile 9: Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, Birdwood Avenue, South Yarra, Victoria 3141, Australia

Publication date: October 1, 2000

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