, Volume 115, Issue 2, pp 95-108

Rarity types among plant species with high conservation priority in Switzerland

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Broennimann O., Vittoz P., Moser D. and Guisan A. 2005. Rarity types among plant species with high conservation priority in Switzerland. Bot. Helv. 115: 95–108.

We investigated the ecogeographic characteristics of 118 Swiss plant species listed as those deserving highest conservation priority in a national conservation guide and classified them into the seven Rabinowitz’ rarity types, taking geographic distribution, habitat rarity and local population size into account. Our analysis revealed that species with high conservation priority in Switzerland mostly have a very restricted geographic distribution in Switzerland and generally occur in rare habitats, but do not necessarily constitute small populations and are generally not endemics on a global scale. Moreover, species that are geographically very restricted on a regional scale are not generally restricted on a global scale. By analysing relationships between rarity and IUCN extinction risks for Switzerland, we demonstrated that species with the highest risk of extinction are those with the most restricted geographic distribution; whereas species with lower risk of extinction (but still high conservation priority) include many regional endemics. Habitat rarity and local population size appeared to be of minor importance for the assessment of extinction risk in Switzerland, but the total number of fulfilled rarity criteria still correlated positively with the severity of extinction risk. Our classification is the first preliminary assessment of the relative importance of each rarity type among endangered plant species of the Swiss flora and our results underline the need to distinguish between a regional and a global responsibility for the conservation of rare and endangered species.

Manuscript accepted 15 March 2005