Conservation of Plant Species

  • Sara F. Oldfield
  • Peggy Olwell
  • Nancy Shaw
  • Kayri Havens
Part of the Springer Earth System Sciences book series (SPRINGEREARTH)


This Chapter reviews the conservation of native plant species in the U.S. It sets out the number of plant species that are under threat according to the main conservation assessment systems. The fundamental importance of understanding the distribution of native plants, their relative abundance, and the threats they face is acknowledged. The impact of climate change on conservation status of plant species, including species already identified as rare and threatened by other factors is discussed. Two broad forms of plant conservation are described, with conservation of the species in its natural habitat or in situ  conservation usually considered the preferred option. Ex situ conservation, the conservation of a species outside its current, natural habitat, provides an essential backup enabling research, propagation, and ideally reintroduction to enhance wild populations. The different organizations conducting in situ and ex situ  conservation of plants are reviewed.


Extinct plants Conservation assessment Endangered Species Act in situ conservation Conservation genetics ex situ conservation Botanic gardens Seed banks 


  1. Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) (2019) Global distribution of botanic gardens mapping applet. Accessed 11 June 2019
  2. CNPS (2017) CNPS De-Extinction Project. California Native Plant Society Blog. Accessed 11 June 2019
  3. Fant JB, Havens K, Kramer AT, Walsh SK, Callicrate T, Lacy RC, Maunder M, Hird Meyer A, Smith PP (2016) What to do when we can’t bank on seeds: what botanic gardens can learn from the zoo community about conserving plants in living collections. Am J Bot 103:1–3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Havens K, Kramer AT, Guerrant EO Jr (2014) Getting plant conservation right (or not): the case of the United States. Int J Plant Sci 175(1):3–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hoover H (1933) Proclamation 2032. March 1, 1933. Saguaro National Monument - Arizona by the President of the United States of America.;view=fulltext. Accessed 11 June 2019
  6. Kramer A, Havens K (2009) Plant conservation genetics in a changing world. Trends Plant Sci 14:599–607CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kramer A, Hird A, Shaw K, Dosmann M, Mims R (2011) Conserving North America’s threatened plants. Progress report on Target 8 of the global strategy for plant conservation. Botanic Gardens Conservation International US, Glencoe, IL, p 48Google Scholar
  8. Kutner LS, Morse LE (1996) Reintroduction in a changing climate. In: Falk DA, Millar CI, Olwell M (eds) Restoring diversity. Strategies for reintroduction of endangered plants. Island Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  9. Liebesman L, Lake E, Landreth P (2009) The endangered species act and climate change. Environ Law Rep 12:11173–11180Google Scholar
  10. NatureServe (2019) NatureServe actionable knowledge to sustain biodiversity. Accessed 11 June 2019
  11. Plant Conservation Alliance (PCA) (2019) Plant conservation alliance. Accessed 11 June 2019
  12. Roosevelt T (1909) Special message of the President transmitting the Report of the National Conservation Commission. In: Gannett H. Report of the National Conservation Commission. Volume I. National Conservation Commission, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  13. State of Hawaii (2019) Division of Forestry and Wildlife, NativeEcosystems Protection and Management. Rare plant program Accessed 11 June 2019
  14. Stein BA, Gravuer K (2008) Hidden in plain sight: the role of plants in state wildlife action plans. NatureServe, Arlington, VAGoogle Scholar
  15. Still SM, Frances AL, Treher A, Oliver L (2015) Using two climate change vulnerability assessment methods to prioritize and manage rare plants: a case study. Nat Areas J 35(1):106–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Still SM, Havens K, Vitt P (2016) Assessing the vulnerability to climate change for rare plants in the western United States. Report to Bureau of Land Management Plant Conservation Program. Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  17. USGS (2019) Gap analysis project. Accessed 11 June 2019
  18. US Geological Survey (USGS) (2018) Protected areas database of the United States (PAD-US) 2.0. Accessed 11 June 2019
  19. Walters C, Hill L, Crane J, Michalax M, Ke X, Carstens J, Conrad K, Westwood M, Colwell A, Clines J, Chmielarz P (2016) Preserving oak (Quercus sp.) germplasm to promote ex-situ conservation. Int Oaks J Int Oak Soc 27:255–266Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara F. Oldfield
    • 1
  • Peggy Olwell
    • 2
  • Nancy Shaw
    • 3
  • Kayri Havens
    • 4
  1. 1.CambridgeUK
  2. 2.Bureau of Land ManagementWashington, DCUSA
  3. 3.USDA Forest ServiceRocky Mountain Research StationBoiseUSA
  4. 4.Chicago Botanic GardenGlencoeUSA

Personalised recommendations