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Is there a future for the Cactaceae genera Copiapoa, Eriosyce and Eulychnia? A status report of a prickly situation

Larridon, Isabel, Shaw, Kirsty, Cisternas, Mauricio A., Paizanni Guillén, Anna, Sharrock, Suzanne, Oldfield, Sara, Goetghebeur, Paul, Samain, Marie-Stéphanie
Biodiversity and conservation 2014 v.23 no.5 pp. 1249-1287
Cactaceae, biodiversity, cacti and succulents, extinction, flora, genetic variation, global change, surveys, threatened species, Chile
Many of Chile’s iconic cactus species are threatened by human activities and global change. In order to safeguard them from extinction, both in situ and ex situ conservation actions are urgently needed. In this paper, an overview is given of the in situ and ex situ conservation status of the mainly Chilean cactus genera Copiapoa, Eriosyce and Eulychnia, including a worldwide survey of living ex situ collections of the species of these genera. From our results, we can conclude that although the threats to Chile’s remarkable biodiversity are now recognized as an environmental problem, and efforts are underway to protect the threatened endemic flora, many of the most threatened species are currently not protected in situ. Although a higher percentage of living accessions of Copiapoa, Eriosyce and Eulychnia in ex situ collections are of known wild origin compared to results of previous studies on other plant groups, the number of available accessions is insufficient to adequately preserve the genetic diversity of the threatened species. Prospects to upscale both in situ and ex situ conservation of the studied genera are discussed.