Seed conservation: An alternative to store germplasm and recover threatened Ecuadorian forests

Jose Miguel Romero-Saritama

Abstract


South America contains more than 50% of the world’s dry forests, which is among the most threatened ecosystems on the planet. Dry forests of Ecuador are part of the Equatorial Pacific Region, considered of greater endemism and scarcely studied. The severe alteration of Ecuadorian dry forests has put at risk the survival of 62 endemic woody species that had been included in the lists of threatened species. And the most worrying fact is that 69% of these species do not occur in protected areas. If deforestation continues at the present accelerated rate, the effects of global warming will be catastrophic. Endemic species of dry forests would be destined to extinction. In the present work, from a perspective of morphological and physiological studies on seeds of woody species, we propose an immediate alternative for the conservation of dry forest species and their restoration. Based on the characteristics of seeds, we determined that approximately 90% of the forest species could be conserved ex situ in the long term. This strategy would be critical in regions where protected areas do not cover the most highly endangered species.

Keywords: tropical dry forest conservation, seed morphology, ecological restoration.


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