, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 257-270
Date: 21 Oct 2011

Conservation genetics and ecology of an endemic montane palm on Lord Howe Island and its potential for resilience

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Abstract

Lepidorrhachis mooreana (Arecaceae) is a monotypic palm genus endemic to the remote Lord Howe Island where it is restricted to a small area of cloud forest above 750 m that is likely to be vulnerable to climate change. We investigated genetic diversity and key demographic parameters to assess the palm’s potential long term viability including possible climate change impacts. The palm was found on only one of the island’s two mountain summits, where the sampled sites were effectively behaving as one panmictic population. The moderate genetic diversity found indicates some adaptive potential for L. mooreana. The population was effectively inbred. Large numbers of fruit are produced, but successful juvenile recruitment is limited by predation by introduced rats. The relatively large population size increases the potential for selection for adaptation to a changing climate.