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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 5:83-90 (2008)  -  DOI:

Ecological correlates and short-term effects of relocation of a rare epiphytic orchid after Hurricane Georges

Raymond L. Tremblay1,2,*

1Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico, Humacao, Puerto Rico 00791, USA
3Center for Applied Tropical Ecology and Conservation, PO Box 23341, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico 00931, USA

ABSTRACT: In the Caribbean, hurricanes are common and can result in the loss of a large component of the epiphytic community as a result of felled tress; the re-establishment of such epiphytic communities is a slow process. Consequently, it is important to determine whether the management of endangered epiphytic plants could include the relocation of individuals from felled to standing trees after hurricanes. If plants can be successfully re-established on standing trees, can new viable populations be established? In this study, ecological correlates and the immediate effect of relocation of a rare endangered epiphytic orchid post Hurricane Georges are examined. Seedlings, juveniles and adults of the protected orchid Lepanthes eltoroensis Stimson were relocated from felled trees onto standing trees along a 5 km stretch of elfin forest and surveyed after 6 and 12 mo. Plants were relocated onto trees that had or were adjacent to trees with con-specific orchids. The effect of this manipulation on survivorship and growth of orchids was evaluated, and the effect of relocating the orchids on occupied and un-occupied phorophytes was compared. L. eltoroensis is preferentially distributed at elevations of 800 to 900 m above sea level, and no preference for specific species of trees was observed. Orchid population size was not correlated with percent moss cover on standing trees. Relocation of orchids from felled trees to standing trees as a management tool for this species was positive, as most individuals (73%) survived the first year; however, this was significantly less than non-relocated plants on standing trees (94%). Management should include re-locating orchids as soon as possible after a hurricane to maximize individual survivorship of this endangered species.

KEY WORDS: Altitudinal gradient · Conservation · Puerto Rico · Population relocation · Survivorship · Orchidaceae · Lepanthes eltoroensis

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Cite this article as: Tremblay RL (2008) Ecological correlates and short-term effects of relocation of a rare epiphytic orchid after Hurricane Georges. Endang Species Res 5:83-90.

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