Ex Situ Assessment
A STATEWIDE ASSESSMENT OF EX SITU STATUS, CAPACITY AND NEEDS FOR THE CONSERVATION OF HAWAIIAN PLANTS
In spring 2012, the National Tropical Botanical Garden and Harold L. Lyon Arboretum, with support from the Hau‘oli Mau Loa Foundation, requested proposals to “conduct a statewide inventory and assessment of organizations and institutions qualified to participate in a statewide micropropagation and seed banking network to assist in the conservation of the native Hawaiian flora.” In May 2012, Matt Keir and Lauren Weisenberger initiated the assessment, and extended it to include all ex situ facilities (micropropagation, seed banks, nurseries, and gardens). They 1) defined ‘taxa of conservation concern’ as species that are on federal or state listings (including the Plant Extinction Prevention Program) or species currently represented at ex situ facilities, 2) estimated the number of naturally occurring individuals and populations for these taxa, 3) combined inventories of ex situ facilities across the state into a single document, 4) determined the optimal ex situ method for each taxa, and 5) interviewed 15 botanists and conservation agencies, and 28 ex situ facility managers to determined major limiting factors in reaching adequate ex situ representation for all taxa of concern. There were 724 taxa of conservation concern; 73% of which occurred on ex situ inventories. Sixty-four percent of these taxa, however, are represented by collections from only ten percent or less of the remaining naturally occurring individuals. More extensive collections are necessary, and most should be secured in seed banks, as 78% of species have seeds that can be stored under current conventional methods, and seed banking is the cheapest and most genetically representative method of storage. Increased funding to overcome limitations would be used to expand facilities, increase staffing and research, conduct botanical surveys (including helicopter support), and create and improve database usage, capabilities, and their ability to interact/share with others’ databases. Recommendations include creating an ex situ network with a unifying data management program, ascertaining funding for increasing and improving existing seed banks, and providing a state nursery on Moloka‘i.
Questions and comments can be directed to Matt Keir (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Lauren Weisenberger (email@example.com).