Conservation of Tropical Plants Using a Variety of Biological Analysis

This discussion topic submitted by Charles Ice ( on 4/15/98.

The issue of sustainability has been a major driving force in the planning of many reserves througout Latin America, especially Costa Rica. The focus of my topic will be on the biological methods and analysis used to determine the health of current plant populations and the future for those same plant populations with certain "human impacts" placed upon them, such as harvesting. I will discuss three types of analysis used by resources managers of biological reserves to assess plant populations both in their current conditions and future predications for the populations. These will be demographic and matrix models analysis, minimum viable population determinations, and metapopulation analysis. Each topic will have its own unique way of looking at plant populations and thus give different assessments of current populations and predictions of future populations. Finally, I will be using a palm species as a case study example for each type of analysis in order to better demonstrate the results of each type of analysis and display to you the different types of information that resource managers need, how they use it, and how they interpret the results which translates into how they manage the plant populations.

I. Introduction to Plant Populations
II. Demographic and Matrix modelss, Age and Stage Structured
III. Minimum Vailable Population Analysis
IV. Metapopulations
V. Case Study: Tropical palm species (possible Thrinax radiata or Coccothrinax readii)

1. Menges, Eric. Stochastic modelsing of Extinction in Plant Populaions. Chapter 10 of Conservations Biology: The Theory and Practice of Nature Conservation Preservation and Management. Fielder, P.L. and S.K. Jain editors, 1992. Chapman and Hall, New York. pp. 253-275.

2. Shaffer, Mark L. Minimum Population Sizes for Species Conservation. Bioscience 31(2), 1981.

3. Olmsted, Ingrid and Elena R. Alvarez-Buylla. Sustainable harvesting of Tropical Trees: Demographic and Matrix modelss of Two Palm Species in Mexico. Ecological Applications, 51(2), 1995, pp. 484-500.

4. Menges, E.S. 1991. The application of minimum viable population theory to plants. pp. 45-61 in D.A. Falk and K.E. Holsinger (editors) Genetics and Conservation of Rare Plants. Oxford U. Press, New York.

5. Levins, R. 1969. Some demographic and genetic consequences of environmental heterogeneity for biological control. Bulletin of Entomology Soc. Amer. 15: 237-240.

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