Skip to main content

Herbarium-Based Preliminary Conservation Assessments of Lesser Antillean Endemic Seed Plants Reveal a Flora at Risk


Conservation assessments present a formidable challenge for regions of the developing world such as the Lesser Antilles. Of the 2652 seed plant taxa recorded from this archipelago (Acevedo-Rodríguez & Strong, 2012, 2016), only 150 taxa (including 14 endemics) are listed in the IUCN Red List. Using only herbarium data, we carried out a preliminary conservation assessment of the 263 seed plant taxa unique to these islands by two methods. Using the algorithm originally developed to assess the Hawaiian flora (Krupnick et al. in Biodiversity and Conservation 18: 1459–1474, 2009), 8% of the taxa were deemed to be Potentially Extinct and 62% Potentially Threatened while 30% were assessed as Not Threatened. Using a Red List criteria approach, 70% were deemed Threatened (Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable), while 30% were assessed as Near Threatened, Least Concern or Data Deficient. The congruence between the assessments by these distinct methods and for the 14 Red Listed species validate this approach as a first step in prioritising plant conservation efforts.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Literature Cited

  • Acevedo-Rodríguez, P. & M. T. Strong. 2008. Floristic richness and affinities in the West Indies. Botanical Review 74: 5–36. doi:10.1007/s12229-008-9000-1.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • ——— & ———. 2012. Catalogue of the seed plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 98. Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, Washington.

    Google Scholar 

  • ——— & ———. 2016. Flora of the West Indies. Catalogue of the seed plants of the West Indies. [1 August 2016].

  • Adams, C. D. 1997. Regional overview: Caribbean Islands. Pp 233–258. In: S. D. Davis, V. H. Heywood, O. Herrera-MacBryde, J. Villa-Lobos, & A. C. Hamilton (eds). Centres of plant diversity Vol. 3 the Americas. World Wide Fund for Nature & IUCN, Basle.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bachman, S., J. Moat, A. W. Hill, J. de la Torre & B. Scott. 2011. Supporting Red List threat assessments with GeoCAT: Geospatial conservation assessment tool. ZooKeys 150: 117–126. doi:10.3897/zookeys.150.2109.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Berazaín-Iturralde, R., F. Areces-Berazaín, J. C. Lazcano-Lara & L. R. González-Torres. 2005. Lista roja de la flora vascular Cubana. Documentos 4. Jardín Botánico Atlántico de Gijón, Gijón.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brooks, T. M., R. A. Mittermeier, C. G. Mittermeier, G. A. B. da Fonseca, A. B. Rylands, W. R. Konstant, P. Flick, J. Pilgrim, S. Oldfield, G. Magin & C. Hilton-Taylor. 2002. Habitat loss and extinction in the hotspots of biodiversity. Conservation Biology 16: 909–923. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.2002.00530.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Broome, R., K. Sabir & S. Carrington. 2007. Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. [1 June 2016].

  • Brown, N., T. Geoghegan & Y. Renard. 2007. A situation analysis for the wider Caribbean. IUCN, Gland.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bunce, M. 2008. The ‘leisuring’ of rural landscapes in Barbados: New spatialities and the implications for sustainability in small island states. Geoforum 39: 969–979. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2007.10.005.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Caujapé-Castells, J., A. Tye, D. J. Crawford, A. Santos-Guerra, A. Sakai, K. Beaver, W. Lobin, F. B. V. Florens, M. Moura, R. Jardim, I. Gómes & C. Kueffer. 2010. Conservation of oceanic island floras: Present and future global challenges. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution & Systematics 12: 107–129. doi:10.1016/j.ppees.2009.10.001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chape, S., M. Spalding & M.D. Jenkins. 2008. The World's Protected Areas. Prepared by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre. University of California Press, Berkeley.

  • Convention on Biological Diversity. 2010. Global Strategy for Plant Conservation: Technical Rationale, Justification for Updating and Suggested Milestones and Indicators. UNEP/CBD/COP 10/19.

  • Ehrlich, P. & A. Ehrlich. 1981. Extinction. The causes and consequences of the disappearance of species. Random House, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  • Feldmann, P. & N. Barré. 2001. Atlas des orchidées sauvages de la Guadeloupe. CIRAD, Montpellier.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fournet, J. 2002. Flore illustrée des phanérogames de Guadeloupe et de Martinique. CIRAD-Gonwana Editions, Montpellier.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gaston, K. V. & R. A. Fuller. 2009. The sizes of species’ geographic ranges. Journal of Applied Ecology 46: 1–9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Graveson, R. (2012). Plants of St. Lucia: A pictorial flora of wild and cultivated vascular plants. [1 June 2016].

  • Harter, D. E. V., S. D. H. Irl, B. Seo, M. J. Steinbauer, R. G. Gillespie, K. A. Triantis, J.-M. Fernández-Palacios & C. Beierkuhnlein. 2015. Impacts of global climate change on the floras of oceanic islands – projections, implications and current knowledge. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution & Systematics 17: 160–183. doi:10.1016/j.ppees.2015.01.003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Harvard University Herbaria & Libraries. 2013. Index of botanists. [1 June 2016].

  • Howard, R. A. 1973. The vegetation of the Antilles. Pp 1–38. In: A. Graham (ed). Vegetation and vegetational history of northern Latin America. Elsevier, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  • IGN. 2012. Géoportail, portail des territoires et des citoyens. [1 June 2016].

  • IUCN. 2001. IUCN Red List categories and criteria. Version 3.1. IUCN Species Survival Commission, Gland.

  • ——— 2016. IUCN Red List of threatened species. IUCN, Gland. [1 August 2016].

  • IUCN & UNEP-WCMC. 2016. The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge. [1 June 2016].

    Google Scholar 

  • IUCN Standards and Petitions Subcommittee. 2011. Guidelines for Using the IUCN Red list Categories and Criteria. Version 9.0. Prepared by the Standards and Petitions Subcommittee. [9 September, 2015].

  • Jaffre, T., P. Bouchet & J.-M. Veillon. 1998. Threatened plants of New Caledonia: Is the system of protected areas adequate? Biodiversity & Conservation 7: 109–135.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kreft, H., W. Jetz, J. Mutke, G. Kier & W. Barthlott. 2008. Global diversity of island floras from a macroecological perspective. Ecology Letters 11: 116–127. doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2007.01129.x.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Krupnick, G. A. 2013. Conservation of tropical plant biodiversity: What have we done, where are we going? Biotropica 45: 693–708. doi:10.1111/btp.12064.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • ———, W. J. Kress & W. L. Wagner. 2009. Achieving target 2 of the global strategy for plant conservation: Building a preliminary assessment of vascular plant species using data from herbarium specimens. Biodiversity & Conservation 18: 1459–1474. doi:10.1007/s10531-008-9494-1.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lindsay, J. M., R. E. A. Robertson, J. B. Shepherd & S. Ali. 2005. Volcanic hazard atlas of the Lesser Antilles. University of the West Indies Seismic Research Unit, St. Augustine.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mascia, M. B. & S. Pailler. 2011. Protected area downgrading, downsizing, and degazettement (PADDD) and its conservation implications. Conservation Letters 4: 9–20. doi:10.1111/j.1755-263X.2010.00147.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Miller, J. S., H. A. Porter-Morgan, G. A. Krupnick, P. Acevedo-Rodríguez, H. Stevens, J. Fleming & M. Gensler. 2012. Addressing target two of the global strategy for plant conservation by rapidly identifying plants at risk. Biodiversity & Conservation 21: 1877–1887. doi:10.1007/s10531-012-0285-3.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Miller, J. A., G. A. Krupnick, H. Stevens, H. Porter-Morgan, B. Boom, P. Acevedo-Rodríguez, J. Ackerman, D. Kolterman, E. Santiago, C. Torres & J. Velez. 2013. Toward target 2 of the global strategy for plant conservation: An expert analysis of the Puerto Rican flora to validate new streamlined methods for assessing conservation status. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 99: 199–205. doi:10.3417/2011121.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mittermeier, R. A., R. R. Gil, M. Hoffman, J. Pilgrim, T. Brooks, C. G. Mittermeier, J. Lamoreux & G. A. B. da Fonseca. 2004. Hotspots revisited: Earth’s biologically richest and most threatened terrestrial ecoregions. CEMEX, Mexico City.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mori, S. A., W. R. Buck, C. A. Gracie & M. Tulig. 2007. Plants and Lichens of Saba. Virtual Herbarium of The New York Botanical Garden. [1 June 2016].

  • Myers, N., R. A. Mittermeier, C. G. Mittermeier, G. A. B. da Fonseca & J. Kent. 2000. Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403: 853–858. doi:10.1038/35002501.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Noss, R. F., A. P. Dobson, R. Baldwin, P. Beier, C. R. Davis, D. A. Dellasala, J. Francis, H. Locke, K. Nowak, R. Lopez, C. Reining, S. C. Trombulak & G. Tabor. 2012. Bolder thinking for conservation. Conservation Biology 26: 1–4. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2011.01738.x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Rivers, M. C., L. Taylor, N. A. Brummitt, T. R. Meagher, D. L. Roberts & E. N. Lughadha. 2011. How many herbarium specimens are needed to detect threatened species? Biological Conservation 144: 2541–2547. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2011.07.014.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rollet, B. 2010. Arbres des Petites Antilles. Tome 1 introduction à la dendrologie. Office National des Forêts, Paris.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sax, D. F. & S. D. Gaines. 2008. Species invasions and extinction: The future of native biodiversity on islands. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105: 11490–11497. doi:10.1073/pnas.0802290105.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Schmitt, C. B., N. D. Burgess, L. Coad, A. Belokurov, C. Besançon, L. Boisrobert, A. Campbell, L. Fish, D. Gliddon, K. Humphries, V. Kapos, C. Loucks, I. Lysenko, L. Miles, C. Mills, S. Minnemeyer, T. Pistorius, C. Ravilious, M. Steininger & G. Winkel. 2009. Global analysis of the protection status of the world’s forests. Biological Conservation 142: 2122–2130. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2009.04.012.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Smith, M. L., S. B. Hedges, W. Buck, A. Hemphill, S. Inchaustegui, M. A. Ivie, M. Martina, M. Maunder & J. Francisco-Ortega. 2004. Caribbean Islands. Pp 112–118. In: R. A. Mittermeier, R. R. Gil, M. Hoffman, J. Pilgrim, T. Brooks, C. G. Mittermeier, J. Lamoreux, & G. A. B. da Fonseca (eds). Hotspots revisited: Earth’s biologically richest and most threatened terrestrial ecoregions. CEMEX, Mexico City.

    Google Scholar 

  • UICN France, CBIG, FCBN & MNHN. 2013a. La Liste rouge des espèces menacées en France - Premier résultats pour la Flore vasculaire de Guadeloupe. Dossier électronique. [1 June 2016].

  • UICN France, CBMQ, FCBN & MNHN. 2013b. La Liste rouge des espèces menacées en France - Premier résultats pour la Flore vasculaire de Martinique. Dossier électronique. [1 June 2016].

  • Van den Eynden, V., M. P. Oatham & W. Johnson. 2008. How free access internet resources benefit biodiversity and conservation research: Trinidad & Tobago’s endemic plants and their conservation status. Oryx 42: 400–407.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wege, D. C., D. Ryan, N. Varty, V. Anadón-Irizarry & A. Pérez-Leroux. 2010. Ecosystem Profile: the Caribbean Islands Biodiversity Hotspot. Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, Washington:. [1 June 2016].

  • Wetzel, F. T., W. D. Kissling, H. Beissmann & D. J. Penn. 2012. Future climate change driven sea-level rise: secondary consequences from human displacement for island biodiversity. Global Change Biology 18: 2707–2719. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2012.02736.x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Wulff, A. S., P. M. Hollingsworth, A. Ahrends, T. Jaffré, J.-M. Veillon, L. L’Huillier & B. Fogliani. 2013. Conservation priorities in a biodiversity hotspot: Analysis of narrow endemic plant species in New Caledonia. PLoS ONE 8: e73371. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073371.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

Download references


We would like to thank the following for facilitating the herbarium visits of CMSC:- Emily Wood (A), Jonathan Gregson (BM), Bente Klitgård (K), Serena Marner (FHO), Claudie Pavis (GUAD), Keron Campbell (IJ), Brian Boom (NY), Yasmin Baksh-Comeau (TRIN), Jim Ackerman (UPRRP), Mark Strong (US). We are grateful to the following specialists for providing guidance on troublesome specimens: James Ackerman, Ashley Egan, Bruce Holst, Sandra Knapp, Peter Jorgensen, Samuli Lehtonen, Guido Mathieu, Darin Penneys, Terry Pennington, Laurence Skog, Charlotte Taylor, Nigel Taylor. We also acknowledge the assistance of the following persons with identification of obscure localities on a number of islands:- Andre Samuel (Anguilla), Kevel Lindsay (Antigua), Lennox Honeychurch (Dominica), Rita Branch (Grenada), Jacques Fournet & Philippe Feldman (Guadeloupe), Elizabeth Chalano (Martinique), Neil How (Montserrat), Daphne Hobson (Nevis), Hannah Madden (St Eustatius), Roger Graveson (St Lucia), Bassy Alexander & Mark DeSilva (St Vincent). CMSC gratefully acknowledges the Study & Travel Fund of the University of the West Indies for support of this work.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to C. M. Sean Carrington.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Carrington, C.M.S., Krupnick, G.A. & Acevedo-Rodríguez, P. Herbarium-Based Preliminary Conservation Assessments of Lesser Antillean Endemic Seed Plants Reveal a Flora at Risk. Bot. Rev. 83, 107–151 (2017).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Caribbean
  • Endangered species
  • Endemic plants
  • IUCN Red List
  • Lesser Antilles
  • Herbarium
  • Vascular plant flora