Abstract Detail

Conservation Biology

Demeulenaere, Else [1], Endara, Lorena [2], Burleigh, Gordon [3], Ickert-Bond, Stefanie [4].

Genetics and Ethnoecology for the Development of Conservation Policies for Endemic Plants of Pacific Islands.

Micronesian islands contain a high biocultural diversity. The geographical isolation of these islands is reflected in a high degree of floristic endemism, but anthropogenic impact (e.g. colonization history, population growth) increasingly threaten the cultural practices and native languages of the islands as well as its ecosystems. The endemic flora of the islands is especially vulnerable due to their small population sizes and narrow ecological niches. Increased habitat loss, invasive species, and wildfire have impacted many endemic plants in the Mariana Islands, nine of them near the brink of extinction. Serianthes nelsonii is a critically endangered species with only one adult tree on Guam and less than 35 reproducing trees on neighboring Rota. Concerns regarding cryptic diversity within this species has prevented interisland conservation actions. The genus Serianthes comprises approximately 18 species plus an additional seven intraspecific taxa, which are distributed throughout Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. One Serianthes species occurs on the neighboring Caroline Islands with one variety on Palau and one on Yap. Serianthes trees on these islands are not endangered and their wood is still used to build traditional canoes and meeting houses. The local government employs traditional and modern management practices to ensure stable Serianthes populations. To make informed management and conservation decisions regarding the conspecificity of Serianthes nelsonii we used target capture sequencing to study the genetic diversity and species delimitation of Serianthes species in Micronesia. We gathered specimens from all the populations of Serianthes present in four Micronesian islands: Guam, Rota, Palau and Yap. In addition, we sampled dried leaves of other Serianthes taxa from Southeast Asia and other Pacific Islands from herbarium specimen preserved in European herbaria. Preliminary analysis of these data suggests that Serianthes nelsonii samples from both Guam and Rota are conspecific and have reached Micronesia via a Sahul-Shelf Austro-Melanesian dispersal route.
Parallel to this effort, interviews in the aforementioned islands of Micronesia were conducted to gather ethnoecological information, which is key for a place-based management approach. Social movement research identified policy gaps to protect endangered species and protect sacred places.
This phylogenetic data together with ethnoecological and social movement data will inform the development of conservation efforts and policies to protect these species within their native distribution ranges.

1 - University of Alaska Fairbanks, UA Museum of The North, 1962 Yukon Dr., Fairbanks, AK, 99775, USA
2 - University of Florida, Department of Biology, 876 Newell Dr., Gainesville, FL, 32611, United States
3 - 916 NE 9th St., Gainesville, FL, 32601, United States
4 - University Of Alaska Fairbanks, Herbarium (ALA) And Dept. Of Biology And Wildlife, University Of Alaska Fairbanks, 1962 Yukon Dr., Fairbanks, AK, 99775, United States


Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: CB3, Conservation Biology 3
Location: Virtual/Virtual
Date: Friday, July 31st, 2020
Time: 12:30 PM
Number: CB3001
Abstract ID:241
Candidate for Awards:None

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