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Nassau, Bahamas

Jestrow B.,Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden | Freid E.,The Bahamas National Trust | Arango-Garces S.,Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden | Francisco-Ortega J.,Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden | Francisco-Ortega J.,Florida International University
Botanical Review | Year: 2014

Dr. John Popenoe was Director of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (FTBG) between 1963 and 1989. Dr. Popenoe was a strong supporter of the Bahamian flora, and in 1963 he obtained extramural funds to develop a living collection focusing on Bahamian plants that was established in FTBG. During his tenure FTBG supported the publication of the latest comprehensive flora of this archipelago. A project initiated by the first FTBG herbarium curator, William Gillis, but published by Donovan and Helen Correll (with illustrations of Priscilla Fawcett) in 1982. This living collection of Bahamian plants has supplied plant material for molecular phylogenetic studies worldwide. There are DNA phylogenies for only 10 of the 89 Bahamian endemics; most of the material of these phylogenies came from plants from these collections (three species) and/or from fragments of herbarium specimens collected by Donovan Correll (six species). Only two of the species included in these phylogenies are from collections unrelated to FTBG. Excluding species restricted to the Bahamas, material from 14 Caribbean Island endemics that are part of these collections has been used in phylogenetic studies. The available molecular phylogenies show that the Bahamian endemics are closely related to species from the West Indies or continental areas of the Caribbean Basin. There is also a paucity of population genetic studies based on DNA markers focusing on Bahamian plants. Only two of the four available population genetic studies are for a Bahamian endemic taxon. © 2014, The New York Botanical Garden.

Freid E.,The Bahamas National Trust | Francisco-Ortega J.,Florida International University | Francisco-Ortega J.,Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden | Jestrow B.,Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Botanical Review | Year: 2014

The Bahamian archipelago consists of approximately 2,400 islands occurring in the Atlantic Ocean off the coasts of Florida, Cuba, and Hispaniola. In 1982 Donovan Correll and Helen Correll published the most current synopsis of the floristic diversity of this island chain. Their publication cited a total of 1,371 vascular plant species of which 114 seed plants were listed as endemic to the archipelago (~8 % of the native flora). In the last 30 years, additional herbarium collections and taxonomic studies have shown that a number of species previously indicated to be endemic to these islands also occur in other regions or have been taxonomically merged into other species. The current number of species considered endemic to the Bahamian archipelago is 89 (~6 % of the total flora). There are 50 endemic species that have a known distribution on one (31 species) or two island groupings (19 species). Biogeographical analyses of endemic plant distributions shows three distinct clusters of species: southern, central, and the northern islands, with a fourth cluster that includes islands with a small area and one medium size island that seems that has been underexplored (i.e., Little Inagua). We anticipate that understanding the conservation status of endemic species and their distributions will help to develop legislation to preserve this Bahamian natural heritage. © 2014, The New York Botanical Garden.

Francisco-Ortega J.,Florida International University | Francisco-Ortega J.,Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden | Korber N.,Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden | Swan M.,Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden | And 3 more authors.
Botanical Review | Year: 2014

The plant hunting expeditions made by David Fairchild on board the research boat Utowana represented some of the most important contributions in the history of plant exploration. These expeditions targeted all the continents except Australia and Antarctica and provided germplasm for the United States Department of Agriculture. As part of our current research to document the details and outputs of David Fairchild’s plant hunting expeditions, in this paper we present an account pertinent to the three trips that he made to The Bahamas. Two of these trips were on board the Utowana and were part of larger expeditions that David Fairchild undertook to the West Indies, Central America and the Guianas between December 1931 and April 1933. No plant material was collected on the third trip when David Fairchild and his wife flew to Nassau in April 1939. We believe that the main focus of this last trip was to meet with Anne Archbold to make arrangements for the Chêng Ho expedition to the East Indies. This Asian endeavor was the only major expedition undertaken by David Fairchild to collect plant material for Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (FTBG). During the Bahamian expedition eleven islands/cays were visited, 94 germplasm accessions (73 species) were collected, and 132 photographs were taken. Our research has been largely based on documents and photographs that belonged to David Fairchild and that are deposited at the Library and Archives of FTBG. “The more than ten years that I spent in the office that Fairchild founded for our Department of Agriculture made me a great admirer of Dr. Fairchild and to appreciate even more the work that he, Wilson Popenoe, and others in the Division had done for our country. Among their accomplishments was the encouragement or establishment as a crop or industry the date, fig, avocado, mango, pistachio, and other lesser known crops. These explorers were also concerned with introducing germ plasm, or breeding stock, for the improvement of traditional field crops, vegetables, and fruit plants, as well as the introduction and establishment of ornamental and other economic plants such as bamboos and Meyer’s Zoysia grass.” [Donovan Correll, from his unpublished autobiography “Notes from a Singing Plant Explorer," January 1983 (Korber et al., 2013]. © 2014, The New York Botanical Garden.

Gratto-Trevor C.,Environment Canada | Haig S.M.,U.S. Geological Survey | Miller M.P.,U.S. Geological Survey | Mullins T.D.,U.S. Geological Survey | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Field Ornithology | Year: 2016

Most of the known wintering areas of Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus) are along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States and into Mexico, and in the Caribbean. However, 1066 threatened/endangered Piping Plovers were recently found wintering in The Bahamas, an area not previously known to be important for the species. Although representing about 27% of the birds counted during the 2011 International Piping Plover Winter Census, the location of their breeding site(s) was unknown. Thus, our objectives were to determine the location(s) of their breeding site(s) using molecular markers and by tracking banded individuals, identify spring and fall staging sites, and examine site fidelity and survival. We captured and color-banded 57 birds in January and February 2010 in The Bahamas. Blood samples were also collected for genetic evaluation of the likely subspecies wintering in The Bahamas. Band re-sightings and DNA analysis revealed that at least 95% of the Piping Plovers wintering in The Bahamas originated on the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada. Re-sightings of birds banded in The Bahamas spanned the breeding distribution of the species along the Atlantic coast from Newfoundland to North Carolina. Site fidelity to breeding and wintering sites was high (88-100%). Spring and fall staging sites were located along the Atlantic coast of the United States, with marked birds concentrating in the Carolinas. Our estimate of true survival for the marked birds was 0.71 (95% CI: 0.61-0.80). Our results indicate that more than one third of the Piping Plover population that breeds along the Atlantic coast winters in The Bahamas. By determining the importance of The Bahamas to the Atlantic subspecies of Piping Plovers, future conservation efforts for these populations can be better focused on where they are most needed. © 2016 Association of Field Ornithologists.

Carey E.,The Bahamas National Trust | Gape L.,The Bahamas National Trust | Manco B.N.,National Environmental Center | Hepburn D.,The College of The Bahamas | And 14 more authors.
Botanical Review | Year: 2014

The Bahamian archipelago has a rich flora with 89 endemic species. An international symposium held at Nassau in October 2012 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the publication of the “Flora of the Bahama Archipelago” provided a forum to discuss plant conservation issues on these islands. This article builds on conclusions from this symposium and results from joint plant conservation research projects among the authors. The two main conservation challenges for these islands are: (1) environmental uncertainties derived from global warming and associated sea level changes and (2) the need for increased plant conservation awareness among the predominant urban population of the archipelago. Legal tools and biodiversity international agreements in place for The Commonwealth of the Bahamas can facilitate mechanisms for effective plant conservation. Further legal developments need to be established in The United Kingdom Overseas Territory of The Turks and Caicos Islands. There is an urgent need to redevelop the Botanic Garden of Nassau and designate it as the national botanic garden of The Bahamas. Further research related to the taxonomy, biology, conservation status, and distribution of the endemic species is urgently needed. Research initiatives pertinent to the detrimental effect and biology of invasive species are also lacking. The heterogeneous environments and uneven distribution of human populations across the archipelago are major challenges for conservation. Finally because of the political and economic status of The Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos, conservation agencies from the archipelago do not have easy access to international or British/European Union funds for global conservation initiatives. © 2014, The New York Botanical Garden.

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