Developing a blueprint for conservation of the endangered longleaf pine ecosystem based on centers of Coastal Plain plant endemism

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  • Nomenclature: Kartesz (1999) with minor exceptions.

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Abstract

Question: Can the geographic patterning of endemic plant species inform reserve selection in a region of high endemism?

Location: The Southeastern Coastal Plain of North America, focusing primarily on the imperiled longleaf pine (Pinus palustris P. Miller) ecosystem.

Methods: We documented the high level of plant endemism in the region, and characterized the endemic taxa into distributional subregions.

Results: A total of 1630 plant taxa are endemic to the Coastal Plain, a large proportion of which are endemic to phytogeographical subregions within the Coastal Plain, with particularly large numbers of narrow endemics occurring in the East Gulf Coastal Plain and Florida Peninsula.

Conclusions: This pattern of local endemism presents challenges in conserving the full biota of the region: a reserve system focusing on few and large conservation areas has theoretical benefits for long-term management and viability, but will fail to capture many local endemics. We propose that the dispersed distribution of endemic species will require a mixture of large core reserves and smaller satellite reserves.

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