Abstract Detail

Conservation Biology

Philpott, Megan [1], Pence, Valerie [2].

Conservation of exceptional plant species: What does it cost and what do we need?

As the number of plant species thought to be exceptional, or unable to be seed banked using traditional methods, grows, so too does the need for information on these species. However, there's a critical lack of information on successful long-term storage protocols for many exceptional plants, and a greater number still that haven't yet been evaluated for exceptional status. In order to address this gap in knowledge and build capacity in exceptional plant conservation, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden's Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) partnered with nine US botanical gardens to support one-year research projects on the propagation and storage of exceptional species. Over the course of the project, the gardens used their initial $5,000 seed grants to target 19 exceptional species. In addition, CREW targeted an additional 14 exceptional plant species for cryopreservation protocol development and banking over the course of a larger three-year grant with one dedicated staff member. Projects included testing germination requirements and evaluating exceptional status of seeds, initiating species into tissue culture, and developing cryopreservation protocols and banking. Over half the gardens cited propagule acquisition as a key challenge in working with their species. Costs were evaluated using a point system, with full points assigned for a developed protocol for a species and half-points assigned for work done towards a species protocol, in order to estimate the average cost of developing a full ex situ conservation protocol for a single species. The average cost per protocol was $3,517 for the seed grants and $5,354 for the larger grant. Higher costs tended to be associated with species that were difficult to initiate or propagate in tissue culture. Over half of the costs associated with each project were allocated to labor, with 5,396 total labor hours across the nine one-year small grant projects. An additional third of the costs were allocated to supplies. The structure of this project allowed for collaboration in the conservation of exceptional species, as the partner gardens were able to come together at the beginning of their projects to discuss proposals and get feedback from each other, and again at the end of their projects to discuss lessons learned and best practices. Gardens highlighted the need for increased information, collaboration, staff, and funding, but there was also a clear desire from all gardens to increase the diversity of conservation practitioners. There is a critical need right now to build capacity in exceptional plant conservation, and the collaborative approach employed here can serve as a model for effective conservation practice moving forward. (Supported by IMLS grant #MG-30-17-0055-17).

1 - Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, CREW, 3400 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH, 45220, United States
2 - Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW), 3400 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH, 45220, USA

ex situ
botanical garden
tissue culture.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number: CB4004
Abstract ID:626
Candidate for Awards:None

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