The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
The conservation of Lepanthes eltoroensis is fully sponsored.
Joie Goodman and Julissa Roncal contributed to this Plant Profile.
Lepanthes eltoroensis is a small, epiphytic orchid that grows on moss-covered tree trunks. It only grows to be about 4cm tall. The flowers are reddish. This species was described in 1969 by William Stimson. Before then there was only considered to be one species in the genus Lepanthes, but Stimsons work showed that there were in fact nine species (and eight of them are endemic to Puerto Rico).
Distribution & Occurrence
- Puerto Rico
Occurs in three montane habitat types: sierra palm, palo colorado and elvin or dwarf forest. Sierra palm forest is limited to steep slopes with poor drainage and saturated soils. It is found at elevations above 450m. Palo colorado is an evergreen forest type, described as an upland swamp, found at elevations greater than 600m. These forests are found on somewhat protected intermediate slopes and valleys, though high winds can occur at times. They do not have high plant diversity. Some of the common species in palo colorado forest are Cyrilla racemiflora (common name palo colorado for which the association is named), Calcyogonium squamulosum, and Micropholis garcinifolia. Elvin or dwarf montane forest occurs on summits and high slopes greater than 750m in elevation. The soils of these forests are water-saturated and therefore oxygen limited. The sites where this forest type is found are often exposed to high winds. The elvin forests are composed of dense stands of short gnarled trees and shrubs that are often covered with mosses and epiphytes. There are about 478 species of plants found in these forests. Some of them are: Calcyogonium squamulosum, Calyptranthes krugii, Miconia foveolata, Ocotea spathulata, and Tabebuia rigida. (USFWS 1993, 1995)
|1732 individuals in 5 populations as of 2002 (USFWS 2006)
Data gathered by USFS shows that the species has increased 3 folds since 1996 records and its range has increased. Hurricane impacts (Hugo, 1989 and Georges, 1998) may have been a critical factor for these documented changes. The University of Puerto Rico - Humacao Campus professor Raymond L. Tremblay, PhD expert in Lepanthes sps working together with the CNF will address in the near future (FY2002) this question of habitat change and increase species trend.
Conservation, Ecology & Research
Hurricane Hugo (1989) devastated the Caribbean National Forest, creating unfavorable microclimatic conditions by causing numerous canopy gaps in the areas of known populations.
Tremblay, R.L. 1997. Distribution and Dispersion Patterns of Individuals in Nine Species of Lepanthes (Orchidaceae). Biotropica, Vol. 29, No. 1, pp. 38-45.
Tremblay, R.L. and J.D. Ackerman 2001. Gene flow and effective population size in Lepanthes (Orchidaceae): a case for genetic drift. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, Vol 72, pp. 47-62.
Additional research was planned for 2002 to study habitat change in the recent increase in population and range.
After damage to the CNF caused by Hurricane Georges (1998), Tremblay relocated individuals from fallen trees to nearby trees. Relocations were considered successful after 6 month monitoring showed no detrimental effects to survivorship, reproductive potential and success of the orchid. (Luis Rivera, pers. comm.)
Actions taken by the CNF as a result of recommendations through consultation with USFWS resulted in: prevention of habitat loss and population decline; gathered information on the distribution and abundance of the orchid; fostered research on habitat requirements, reproductive biology, and ecology of the orchid; established new populations and refined recovery criterias.
Population trend for host trees
Long term population trend
Rivera, L. Tropical Vegetation Specialist, El Yunque National Forest, U.S. Forest Service, Puerto Rico. 2008. Endangered plant species in the El Yunque National Forest. email to Joie Goodman.