Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 300, Issue 9, pp 2019–2027 | Cite as

Conservation and genetics of two Critically Endangered Hispaniolan palms: genetic erosion of Pseudophoenix lediniana in contrast to P. ekmanii

  • Rosa A. Rodríguez-Peña
  • Brett Jestrow
  • William Cinea
  • Alberto Veloz
  • Francisco Jiménez-Rodríguez
  • Ricardo García
  • Alan W. Meerow
  • M. Patrick Griffith
  • Michael Maunder
  • Javier Francisco-Ortega
Original Article


The palm species Pseudophoenix ekmanii (endemic to the Dominican Republic) and P. lediniana (endemic to Haiti) are the only Critically Endangered species (sensu IUCN) of the genus. Results are presented of recent field research and population genetic studies targeting P. lediniana. The field research confirmed that wild plants of P. lediniana are restricted to a single population found along almost inaccessible and unstable limestone cliffs along a ravine in southern Haiti, near Jacmel in the Province of Ouest. The population is composed of six fragments with approximately 71 adults and 2 juveniles. No seedlings were located, and the population is under severe extinction threat because of landslides during the raining season, massive forest clearance, and burns for charcoal extraction and cropping of subsistence staple crops. Seven DNA microsatellite (SSR) loci were used to generate estimates of genetic variation of this species. Approximately one-third of all wild plants (21 individuals) were sampled. Only four of these SSR loci were polymorphic and population genetic coefficients showed that the population is highly inbred. Population genetics results for P. lediniana were compared with those previously published for P. ekmanii. Levels of genetic variation were quantified by number of polymorphic loci and observed heterozygosity. These values were much lower in P. ledinana than in P. ekmanii. The latter species is officially protected in a national park and has several populations, some much larger than that of the P. lediniana population. Differences concerning in situ conservation protection and population size might explain differences for levels of genetic variation between these two Critically Endangered species. Ex situ and in situ strategies for conservation are proposed.


Palms Biodiversity hotspots Caribbean West Indies Threatened species Genetic diversity 



This study was supported by the Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (project number 11252872). Matching research funds were provided by Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden. We thank Paul Sharp for their technical assistance. Rosa Rodríguez received support from the Fulbright Foreign Student Program (LASPAU fellowship) and a tuition waiver from FIU. Daniel Gann provided help with the preparation of maps. Our gratitude to Liz Harrison and Nora Oleas for their help with the population genetic analyses. This is contribution 274 of the Tropical Biology Program of FIU. William Cinea arranged all the required collecting, export, and phytosanitary permits to conduct this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rosa A. Rodríguez-Peña
    • 1
    • 2
  • Brett Jestrow
    • 2
  • William Cinea
    • 3
  • Alberto Veloz
    • 4
  • Francisco Jiménez-Rodríguez
    • 4
  • Ricardo García
    • 4
  • Alan W. Meerow
    • 5
  • M. Patrick Griffith
    • 6
  • Michael Maunder
    • 1
  • Javier Francisco-Ortega
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and SciencesFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Kushlan Tropical Biology InstituteFairchild Tropical Botanic GardenMiamiUSA
  3. 3.Jardin Botanique des Cayes, BergeaudCayesHaiti
  4. 4.Jardín Botánico NacionalSanto DomingoDominican Republic
  5. 5.USDA-ARS-SHRS, National Germplasm RepositoryMiamiUSA
  6. 6.Montgomery Botanical CenterMiamiUSA

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