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Distribution, status, and conservation of Camellia changii Ye (Theaceae), a Critically Endangered plant endemic to southern China

Ren, Hai, Jian, Shuguang, Chen, Yongju, Liu, Hong, Zhang, Qianmei, Liu, Nan, Xu, Yi, Luo, Jian
Oryx 2014 v.48 no.3 pp. 358-360
Camellia, broadleaved evergreens, canopy, conservation areas, conservation status, deciduous forests, flowering, genetic variation, habitats, indigenous species, population size, sandy loam soils, seed set, seedlings, streams, surveys, China
The distribution of the endemic threatened plant Camellia changii Ye (Family Theaceae) is restricted to a small area in southern China, and little else is known about its status in the wild. To provide information for the conservation of C. changii we investigated its distribution, population size and structure, and habitat, and assessed its conservation status. Surveys confirmed that the species grows in a narrow band along both sides of a 4 km long segment of a stream in Ehuangzhang Nature Reserve, under the discontinuous canopy of a secondary evergreen broadleaved forest on well-drained, acidic sandy loam soil. We found a total of 1,039 individuals of C. changii. The population has a high flowering rate but a low seed-setting rate. The population appears to be in decline because no seedlings and few young plants were evident. Our findings indicate that C. changii should be categorized as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. We have recommended an integrated species-conservation plan for the species that includes patrolling the Ehuangzhang Nature Reserve to prevent plant removal, establishing an ex situ living collection that contains the entire wild genetic diversity (accomplished by grafting of short cuttings from all wild individuals), facilitating propagation for commercial use, and implementing reintroduction to augment the wild population.