Tuesday, 20 November 2012

IUCN Red List of Bryophytes in islands

Bryophytes as small-sized plants are usually neglected by conservation efforts. The number of regional IUCN Red lists for bryophytes is also low compared to vascular plants. There is an increasing awareness that the vast majority of extinctions go unnoticed because they occur within small, highly neglected organisms despite representing the highest proportion of currently described species (Cardoso et al., 2011).

In her recent paper, Juana González-Mancebo (Moveclim Partner) and co-authors discussed the application of IUCN criteria to bryophytes in small and highly environmental diverse island systems and reported the first Red List for bryophytes of the Canaries which comprises 105 species. They concluded that the priority conservation should be given to freshwater habitats and cloud forests because both environments together contain 63 % of the endangered (EN) bryophytes in the Canaries.

González-Mancebo et al. 2012. Applying the IUCN Red List criteria to small-sized plants on oceanic islands: conservation implications for threatened bryophytes in the Canary Islands. Biodiversity and Conservation 21:3613–3636

Claudine Ah-Peng (Moveclim co-coordinator) and co-authors provided early this year the first IUCN Red List for Réunion (Mascarenes) liverworts and hornworts, 39 taxa of liverworts are threatened of near threatened with one species considered as regionally extinct. In Réunion, the threats that the bryoflora encounters are mainly due to human population growth leading to urbanization, habitat degradation, destruction and loss, clearing of native forest for cattle farming in the uplands and more recently moss harvesting for horticultural purposes.

Ah-Peng et al. 2012. Bryophyte Red List of Réunion (Mascarene archipelago): liverworts and hornworts. Phytotaxa 68:1-23

Based on these two recent initiatives,  a solid ground in the methodology of creating regional Red List for bryophytes is provided, which should be propagated to other oceanic islands and archipelagoes across the oceans, as IUCN Red List remain a practical tool for conservation efforts and native island systems are endangered. Locally in each archipelago, it is hoped that biodiversity managers will make use of these regional Red lists and will include bryophytes for setting the next conservation priorities.

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