, Volume 13, Issue 12, pp 2253-2274

Plant species microendemism and conservation of montane maquis in New Caledonia: two new species of Pancheria (Cunoniaceae) from the Roche Ouaïème

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Abstract

Two species of Pancheria (Cunoniaceae) described here, Pancheria minima J.C. Bradford and Pancheria ouaiemensis J.C. Bradford, draw attention to a recently recognized biodiversity pattern in New Caledonia. Montane maquis on acidic substrates, especially on the Roche Ouaïème, harbors numerous endemic species and is a rare and globally unique ecosystem. We cite 12 species, most described in the past several years, known only from the Roche Ouaïème in an area less than 10 km2. Overall, 27 species are known only from montane maquis and currently not found in a well-protected area. The major local threat to montane maquis habitat is anthropogenic fire, with climate change a possible long-term problem. Those montane maquis species known from one or two localities, occupying very small areas, and with declining habitat quality are critically endangered or endangered based on IUCN Red List criteria. Adding the Roche Ouaïème to the reserve system of New Caledonia is recommended to protect and manage a representative area of montane maquis on acidic substrates. A research strategy is proposed to identify species most at risk, locate possible unknown areas of montane maquis, and update taxonomic knowledge. A review of characters that vary among Pancheria species is provided, and the inflorescence architecture is described and diagramed. Both new Pancheria species occur at upper elevations in shrubby habitats. P. minima is remarkable in that the size of plants, leaves and reproductive parts is highly reduced compared to other known species.