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Extinction-Rate Estimates for a Modern Neotropical Flora

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Concerns about elevated extinction rates in the tropics are a common feature of the conservation literature, but direct measurements are rare. We present the first quantitative estimates of extinction rate in a complete Neotropical flora based on historical plant-collection records, quantitative measurements of forest loss and plant diversity, and the conservation status of endemic plant species in Ecuador. Our analyses suggest that 19–46 endemic plant species have gone extinct in Ecuador over the last 250 years, mostly because of habitat loss, and therefore are now globally extinct. An additional 282 species, nearly 7% of Ecuador's endemic flora, qualify as critically endangered. We found evidence of impending large-scale plant extinctions in the country's coastal and Andean forests, but little extinction and low potential for extinction in the Amazonian lowlands.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Center for Tropical Conservation, Box 90381, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708–0381, U.S.A., Email: [email protected] 2: Missouri Botanical Garden, P.O. Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166–0299, U.S.A. 3: Biosphere Consultants, Casilla 17–21–140, Quito, Ecuador 4: Herbario QCA, Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador,Apartado 17–01–2184, Quito, Ecuador

Publication date: October 1, 2002

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