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Ashdod, Israel

Volis S.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | Dorman M.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | Blecher M.,Ein Gedi Nature Reserve | Sapir Y.,Tel Aviv University | Burdeniy L.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev
Journal of Applied Ecology | Year: 2011

Despite being expensive, complicated and less successful than the conservation of primary habitat, translocation is rapidly gaining importance as a conservation approach due to accelerated loss of natural environment. Finding the optimal abiotic and biotic conditions needed for successful translocation of plants can be difficult for species with limited information on prior distribution. Unfortunately, this is often the case with endangered plant species, including those urgently needing action. 2.We present a method of evaluating the relative importance of multiple environmental parameters in translocation success. This method is based on the application of variation partitioning in canonical ordination and it allows usage of not only multiple independent biotic and abiotic variables, but also multiple dependent variables for fitness estimates. 3.In this study, six soil parameters together with the abundance of 61 plant species and their total biomass were used to explain the variation in translocation success of Iris atrofusca plants among 22 microsites. The relative importance of each of the three factors was estimated using ordination techniques. 4.Soil characteristics and total biomass of other plants did not significantly affect the performance of translocated irises, but the species composition of the surrounding vegetation did have a significant effect. The abundance of relatively rare species was closely correlated with iris performance. It is likely that these species do not affect the irises directly but instead represent environmental conditions not measured in this study, which are necessary for the survival of irises. 5.Synthesis and applications.Variation partitioning appears to be a highly promising method for planning the translocation of plants and evaluating success due to its ability to estimate the unique contribution of each of two or more sets of environmental factors. It can be used to monitor success, and to identify the key contributory factors, in experimental translocations preceding actual introduction of plants in conservation programmes. © 2010 The Authors. Journal of Applied Ecology © 2010 British Ecological Society.

Volis S.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | Blecher M.,Ein Gedi Nature Reserve | Sapir Y.,Tel Aviv University
Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2010

We applied the quasi in situ conservation strategy, described in an accompanying paper, to a critically endangered plant species, Iris atrofusca from the Northern Negev, Israel. As the first steps of this strategy implementation we performed habitat and demographic observations; creation of two living collections outside the natural populations, but within the same ecological conditions; and relocation experiments. Plants in the living collections got established and showed high reproductive potential. In the relocation experiments, 3 years after introduction of rhizomes, no firm conclusions could be made about factors limiting species distribution at either large or small scale, but microhabitat was important for relocation success. We conclude that complex conservation approach that includes quasi in situ strategy should be useful for an endangered species that is distributed over variable ecological conditions. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Volis S.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | Blecher M.,Ein Gedi Nature Reserve
Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2010

Plant conservation urgently needs a concept that would unify different aspects of population viability as parts of conservation methodology. Such unification is especially lacking for ex situ conservation. We introduce a novel conservation approach in which ex situ collections maintained in natural or semi-natural environment and preserving both neutral and adaptive genetic diversity are a part of a complementary ex situ-in situ conservation strategy. Our approach is the first that explicitly takes into account ecologically significant (i.e. adaptive) variation of plants in both ex situ and in situ conservation actions. Using this approach we provide detailed guidelines for (1) representative sampling of the populations; (2) collection maintenance; and (3) utilization for in situ actions. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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