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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 17:227-236 (2012)  -  DOI:

Ex situ conservation of threatened native plants in Finland: analysis of the current status

Mari Miranto1,3, Marko Hyvärinen1,3,*, Ritva Hiltunen1, Leif Schulman

1Botanical Gardens, PO Box 3000, 90014 University of Oulu, Finland
2Finnish Museum of Natural History, PO Box 17, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
3Present address: Botany Unit, Finnish Museum of Natural History, PO Box 7, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland

ABSTRACT: Habitat destruction, invasive species, climate change and other threats to plant diversity are requiring increased conservation efforts. Priority is appropriately given to in situ conservation, but the important contribution that ex situ conservation can make is increasingly being recognised. In Finland, extensive seemingly intact natural areas have so far led authorities to consider ex situ conservation activities largely unnecessary. Botanic gardens, with estimated living collections of 80000 plant species worldwide, cultivate valuable plant material that can be used in recovery and reintroduction programmes. Recently, gardens all over the world have started to survey their collections. The results to date have revealed some very valuable collections but also highlighted inadequate databasing, narrow genetic representation and various genetic problems. As a part of an EU Life+ funded initiative, 4 Finnish botanic garden collections were investigated in order to find nationally threatened vascular plant species of known wild origin. Accessions were assessed for their potential use in future reintroduction programmes by ranking the quality of origin data and genetic intactness. Seventy-seven accessions from 56 vascular plant target taxa were found cultivated as living plants, representing 18% of Finland’s nationally threatened taxa. The findings of this Finnish survey are similar to studies completed for botanic gardens elsewhere showing that there are deficiencies in intraspecific and within-population diversity. However, the accuracy of origin data and genetic intactness of the accessions were comparatively high. This survey forms the basis of the current development of a national plant ex situ action plan.

KEY WORDS: Biodiversity · Conservation · Botanic gardens · Convention on Biological Diversity · Genetic diversity · Living collection · Native plant species

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Cite this article as: Miranto M, Hyvärinen M, Hiltunen R, Schulman L (2012) Ex situ conservation of threatened native plants in Finland: analysis of the current status. Endang Species Res 17:227-236.

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