The decline and conservation management of the threatened endemic palms of the Mascarene Islands

Mike Maunder c1p1, Wayne Page a3, John Mauremootoo a3, Richard Payendee a3, Yousoof Mungroo a5, Aleks Maljkovic a3, Christian Vericel a4 and Ben Lyte a2
c1 Conservation Projects Development Unit, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK
a2 Conservation Projects Development Unit, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK
a3 Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, Ken Lee Building, Edith Cavell Street, Port Louis, Mauritius
a4 Conservatoire Botanique National de Mascarin, Domaine de Colimaçons, F-97436 Saint Leu, La Réunion
a5 National Parks and Conservation Service, Government of Mauritius, Reduit, Mauritius


Abstract The conservation status of the five genera and 11 species of palm endemic to the Mascarene Islands (Mauritius, La Réunion and Rodriques) are reviewed. All species are threatened with extinction; nine taxa are classified as Critically Endangered and four as Endangered on the 2000 IUCN Red List. Two taxa survive as single wild specimens (Hyophorbe amaricaulis and Dictyosperma album var. conjugatum); an additional seven taxa have wild populations of 100 or fewer. Although the historical phase of large-scale forest clearance has passed, the remaining palm populations in the Mascarenes are under threat from the effects of population fragmentation, invasive plants and animals, and high levels of seed predation that prevent natural regeneration. The advantages of in situ management for the recovery of these palm populations are discussed. Without a long-term conservation programme, utilising both in situ and ex situ management, extinction of wild populations will occur.

(Received September 5 2000)
(Revised April 24 2001)
(Accepted September 20 2001)

Key Words: Acanthophoenix; Dictyosperma; ex situ; Hyophorbe; in situ; Latania; Mascarene Islands; palms; Tectiphiala.

p1 Present address: Conservation Department, The National Tropical Botanical Garden, 3530 Papalina Road, Kalaheo, Kauai, Hawaii 96741, USA. E-mail: m.maunder@ntbg.org