【Title】Conservation of challenging endemic plant species at high risk of extinction in arid mountain ecosystems: a case study of Rosa arabica Crép. in Egypt
【Author】Karim OMAR1, 2*; Ibrahim ELGAMAL1
【Addresses】1 Nature Conservation Sector, Ministry of Environment, Cairo 11728, Egypt; 2.United Nation Development Program (UNDP), Cairo 2007, Egypt
【Corresponding author】Karim OMAR
【Citation】Omar K, Elgamal I (2021) Conservation of challenging endemic plant species at high risk of extinction in arid mountain ecosystems: a case study of Rosa arabica Crép. in Egypt. Journal of Mountain Science 18(10).https://doi.org/10.1007/s11629-021-6750-2
【Abstract】Rosa arabica Crép. is a perennial shrub belonging to the family Rosaceae. It is endemic to the high mountain area of St. Catherine Protected Area (SCPA) in southern Sinai, Egypt, and is listed as one of the most 100 threatened plants in the world. Recently, it has been listed as critically endangered by IUCN Red List due to its small extent of occurrence and tiny population size. Wereported the continuous decline in habitat quality for this species and the urgent need to carry out on-ground conservation actions. So, this research aims to conserve Rosa arabica through in situ practices by implementing the following steps, respectively: a) evaluate the current conservation status through IUCN Red List to extract the environmental factors controlling the species' distribution necessary for establishing the recovery program, b) determine the potential species habitat suitability under the current climate conditions using Maxent, and c) based on the previous two steps, the translocation process for R. arabica in the suitable habitat will be done after the simple layering process as one of the most effective traditional vegetative methods for wild cultivation for this species. These steps aimed to reduce the impact of threats and the risk of extinction through increasing the population size, the Extent of Occurrence (EOO), and the Area of Occupancy (AOO). We extracted the environmental factors controlling the target species' distribution and habitat suitability range using the IUCN Red List assessment and Species Distribution Model (SDM). The most suitable habitat for R. arabica is predicted in the middle northern parts of SCPA, with the highest suitability in the High Mountains. Precipitation of driest quarter, precipitation of wettest month, precipitation of coldest quarter, and aspect are the highest mean contributors determining the distribution of R. arabica in SCPA. Rosa arabica potential distribution covers 324.4 km2 (7.46%) of the total SCPA area (4350 km2). This area is divided into: 18.1 km2 high probability,124.3 km2 moderate probability, and 182 km2 low probability. After one year of the simple layering process, ten branches rooted and were translocated into three sites that hadbeen previously identified to cover three habitat suitability ranges (high, moderate, and low suitability). After a year of translocation in the wild, the survival rate ranged from 66% to 100%, the geographical range increased by 65%, and the population size by 6.8%.Therefore, if the new individuals continueto grow and adapt it may lead to the expansion of other environmental factors such as climatic and topographical factors that probably increase the resilience of the global population of the species to adverse events. Detailed information is provided in this research about the recovery program, from planning to implementation and monitoring, and recommendations for best practices.
【Keywords】Mountain ecosystems; Recovery; Translocations; Layering; Conservation; Species distribution modelling; Maxent; IUCN Red List