Prioritizing Single Site Endemics for Ex Situ Conservation

Anne Frances, NatureServe; Amanda Treher, NatureServe;
Wesley Knapp, North Carolina Natural Heritage Program

Plants that occur in only one to few locations globally are most at-risk of extinction. Research on the extinct plants of North America shows that 64% of extinct plants were known from one site. Single site endemics generally face higher threats than plants known from many locations–including demographic stochasticity (from small population sizes) to the risk that one event can affect the entire global population. The first step in preventing the extinction of single site endemics is to identify which taxa are truly known from such a restricted geography. Using NatureServe’s Element Occurrence data on rare plants, we developed a preliminary list of 109 plant taxa known from very few locations. The list needs to be analyzed to determine which taxa are taxonomically valid, and of those, which are actually single site endemics. This presentation will outline the importance of conserving single site endemics, the steps and challenges to vetting the list, and the percentage of single site endemics that are currently held in ex situ collections and protected under the US Endangered Species Act. The presentation will conclude with ideas on how to share data to better protect these species.