Celebrating 30 Years of the Flora of the Bahamas: Conservation and Science Challenges

An International Symposium (October 30 - 31, 2012) at the

The Bahamas National Trust and The College of the Bahamas


1.- Oral Presentations

The New York Botanical Garden and the making of The Bahama Flora, 1920
 Brian M. Boom & Dennis W. Stevenson*
The New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10458, U.S.A.
*= Presenter

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), under the leadership of its Director-in-Chief, Nathaniel Lord Britton, launched an intensive program of exploration and publication on the plants in the northern Caribbean region.  One major geographic focus of attention during this period was the Bahama archipelago, resulting in the 1920 publication The Bahama Flora.  N. L. Britton led four expeditions to the Bahamas between 1904 and 1907, but most of his effort on this project was devoted to coordinating and seeking funding for some two dozen expeditions undertaken by collaborators, including those resident in the Bahamas (e.g., notably Lewis J. K. Brace), those on the NYBG staff (Elizabeth G. Britton, Marshall A. Howe, George A. Nash, Norman Taylor, Percy Wilson, and John K. Small), and various botanists from other institutions, most notably Charles Frederick Millspaugh of the Field Museum, co-author with N.L. Britton of The Bahama Flora.   In total, the Flora reported 1,982 species composed of 995 spermatophytes, 33 pteridophytes, 69 bryophytes, 150 fungi, 197 lichens, 519 algae (including diatoms), and 11 myxomycetes.  The present paper recounts the itineraries of the expeditions and the principal discoveries made in the making of The Bahama Flora, utilizing the specimens deposited in the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium of the NYBG combined with original field books, maps, correspondence, and more than 125 black and white photographs of Bahamian plants and landscapes, taken between 1904 and 1907, in the archives of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of the NYBG. 

Plant conservation challenges in the Bahamas
Eric Carey
The Bahamas National Trust, Nassau, P.O. Box N-4105, New Providence, The Bahamas

The Bahamas archipelago has a highly fragmented terrestrial landscape composed of 23 inhabited islands and hundreds of islets. Most of the Bahama archipelago is part of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas; however, the southeastern end of the archipelago, the Turks and Caicos islands, is a British protectorate. The island chain has approximately 1,300 native species 87 of them are regarded as endemic, and there are an undetermined number of invasive species. The country has a protected area system of 27 national parks and preserve managed by the Bahamas National Trust. With 10% of the terrestrial environment under protection The Bahamas has met the requirements for terrestrial protection under the Convention of Biological Diversity. The flora of the islands has been influenced biogeographically by Cuba, Florida and Western Hispaniola and this has created a unique biodiversity layout. Rainfall has also influenced the flora of the islands with the northern islands receiving the largest amount rainfall. Several of the elements that have contributed to Bahamian plant biodiversity are relevant to address plant conservation initiatives. In this presentation challenges for plant conservation in The Bahamas are discussed and recommendations are made regarding research and also actions that can be taken to preserve the native plant heritage of these islands.

The Flora of the Bahamas, Donovan Correll, and the Miami University connection
W. Hardy Eshbaugh
Professor Emeritus
Department of Botany, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056, U.S.A.

The Miami University connection to the Flora of the Bahamas begins with Richard A. Howard, a 1938 graduate of the Department of Botany at Miami University. Two of his early publications are the Vegetation of the Bimini Island Group: Bahamas, B. W. I (1950) and The modern names for Catesby’s plants (1983). In 1976 Miami University professor Thomas K. Wilson suggested that he and I initiate a course on the Tropical Flora of the Bahamas at Forfar Field Station, Andros Island. However, the reality was that neither of us knew anything about the Bahama flora. In 1977 Bill Gillis was invited to give a seminar at Miami University and we spent a lot of time learning everything we could about the Bahamas from him. We suggested he plan to teach with us when we first offered the course in 1978 but he had made previous teaching commitments. We then contacted Donovan Correll who agreed to spend a week with our class in 1978. However, two months before the course was to be taught he called to say he was sorry but he had to give his undivided attention the Flora of the Bahama Archipelago project. He suggested that George Proctor was willing to teach with us. Thus, in 1978 The Tropical Flora of the Bahamas, a two week course, was taught for the first time. One outgrowth of the course was the publication of the Vascular Flora of Andros Island, Bahamas (1988). Many dissertations, theses, and papers have been and continue to be published by Miami University students who took this course during its thirty year history.


Plant endemicity in the Bahamian Archipelago
Ethan Freid1, Javier Francisco-Ortega2,3 & Brett Jestrow3
The Bahamas National Trust, Nassau, P.O. Box N-4105, New Providence, The Bahamas
2Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, U.S.A.
3Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables, Miami, FL 33156, U.S.A.

The Bahamian Archipelago (The Bahamas plus The Turks and Caicos Islands) consists of approximately 2400 islands occurring along 450 miles of latitude (~ 20o to 27o north) in the Atlantic Ocean off the coasts of Florida, Cuba, and Hispaniola. In 1982 Correll and Correll published the Flora of the Bahamas Archipelago, which is considered the most current synopsis of the floristic diversity of the island chain. Their publication cites a total of 1371 vascular plant species of which 129 are endemic to the archipelago (~ 9.4 %). However, in the following 30 years since publication, herbarium collections and taxonomic studies have shown that a number of species previously indicated to be endemic to the Bahamian Archipelago also occur in South Florida, Cuba, and/or Hispaniola or have been taxonomically merged into non-endemic species. The current number of species considered endemic to the Bahamian Archipelago is 87 (~ 6.4 % of the total flora) based on 39 deletions and 1 new species being added to the flora. There are 46 (52.2 %) endemic species that have a known distribution of 1 or 2 island groups, and 42 (47.8 %) species are on 3 or more island groups. Analysis of endemic plant distributions shows three distinct clusters of species: southern, central, and the northern pine islands, with a four unresolved set of small island groups along the western edge of the Great Bahama Bank. Understanding the status of endemic species and their distributions is critically important in developing an IUCN Redlist and assisting the Bahamian government in creating policies and legislation that promote and conserve rare and endangered species within the archipelago.

Plants, molecules, biogeography, and living collections. A journey started in 1963
Brett Jestrow1, Ethan Freid2 & Javier Francisco-Ortega3,1
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables, Miami, FL 33156, U.S.A.
2The Bahamas National Trust, Nassau, P.O. Box N-4105, New Providence, The Bahamas
3Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, U.S.A.

John Popenoe was the third Director of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (FTBG) and in 1963 he received a grant from American Philosophical Society to establish the "Bahamian Plot." This collection of living plants is historically significant as it has played a major role in subsequent research pertinent to Bahamian plant biodiversity. Revitalizing this collection with recent plant expeditions to Andros and Eleuthera has led to one of the most active collaborations between FTBG, the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve, and the Bahamas National Trust. The Bahamian Plot has the most extensive collection of Bahamian plants outside the archipelago and it has been a source of plant material to understand the phylogenetic placement of plant species endemic to these islands. There are 87 endemics in the Bahamas but only eight of these endemic have been the subject of molecular phylogenies. Over 30 species from the Bahamian Plot have been included in molecular studies. Results of these phylogenetic studies are discussed within a biogeographic and systematic framework as well as plans for our current and future research.

Contributions of William T. Gillis to an understanding of the Bahama Flora: an historical perspective
Lee B. Kass
Department of Plant Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, U.S.A.
William T. Gillis (1933-1979) became interested in the Bahama flora while conducting field research for his Ph.D. beginning in 1963.  His interest intensified from 1968 to 1972, while a taxonomist and herbarium curator at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (FTBG) in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. He made many collecting trips to the Bahamas, and in 1970, in collaboration with Richard A. Howard of Harvard University and George R. Proctor of the Science Museum, Institute of Jamaica, proposed to revise The Bahama Flora, first published by Britton and Millspaugh in 1920. Although their National Science Foundation (NSF) proposal in Systematic Biology was rejected in August 1971, Gillis continued his work on the Bahama flora elsewhere, following his April 1972 dismissal from FTG.  Garden director J. Popenoe, claiming the project belonged to FTBG, recruited Donovan Correll, Systematic Biology Program Director, to begin the flora project at FTBG upon leaving his NSF post.  Gillis continued the project as Mercer Research Fellow at Harvard University, then as Visiting Assistant Professor at Hope College, and as Assistant Professor at Michigan State University.  His numerous and valuable Bahama flora publications with Howard and Proctor appeared between 1973 and 1977.  Gillis' death in 1979, at age 45, prevented his completing this valuable project.  Corrells’ flora was published (1982). Gillis’ Bahamas contributions were summarized by Kass & Eshbaugh (1993, Rhodora 95: 369-391).  We highlight Gillis’ contributions to the Bahama flora, consider why they were excluded from the Flora of the Bahama Archipelago, and offer suggestions for future revision to that Flora.

Systematics, taxonomy, and the new flora of the Bahamian Archipelago
Michael A. Vincent & R. James Hickey
Department of Botany, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056 USA

Compilation and production of a new flora for a geographic or political region is a time-consuming and detail-oriented task.  There are many challenges to such an enterprise, including availability of materials, time and expense related to conducting field expeditions, and working within varying political and sociological frameworks that may vary from region to region.  A very interesting and challenging aspect of the creation of a new flora is garnering a full understanding of taxonomic and nomenclatural changes that have occurred which impact the writing of the flora.  In the Corrells’ Flora of the Bahama Archipelago, 1371 taxa were recognized in 663 genera in 144 families (including pteridophytes).  Since the early 1980’s, a greater understanding of the relationships among plant species, genera, and families has developed, due in no small part to the advent of molecular techniques, and the changes in understanding have resulted in many nomenclatural and relational rearrangements.  The most recent checklist for the Bahamas, that of Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012), lists 1371 taxa in 659 genera in 139 families (excluding pteridophytes).  We will present data on our understanding of the flora of the Bahama archipelago, including discussion of nomenclatural changes impacting the flora, based on studies of herbarium specimens, field excursions, and literature reviews.

2.- Posters


Cycad biodiversity in the Bahama Archipelago and conservation genetics of the Critically Endangered Zamia lucayana (Zamiaceae)
Michael Calonje1, Alan Meerow2, Lindy Knowles3, David Knowles3, Patrick Griffith1,  Kyoko Nakamura2, & Javier Francisco-Ortega4,5
1Montgomery Botanical Center, Coral Gables, Miami, FL 33156, U.S.A.
2USDA-ARS-SHRS, National Germplasm Repository, Miami, FL 33158, U.S.A.
3The Bahamas National Trust, Nassau, P.O. Box N-4105, New Providence, The Bahamas
4Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, U.S.A
5Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables, Miami, FL 33156, U.S.A.

A conservation assessment for the three cycad species native to the Bahamas Islands is presented. Results are based on field surveys in on all islands where these species occur [Zamia angustifolia (native in Eleuthera), Z. integrifolia (native in Abaco, Andros, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama, and New Providence), and Z. lucayana (endemic to Long Island)]. We assessed the genetic structure of Z. lucayana based on 15 polymorphic microsatellite DNA loci. Zamia angustifolia has the highest conservation concern because of the small number of adult plants, its restricted habitat distribution, and extensive development occurring within its habitat. Zamia integrifolia also has a very restricted distribution in Eleuthera and Grand Bahama. Although threatened by urban development in New Providence, it is relatively common in the other islands. Zamia lucayana is comprised of three populations within a narrow strip of approximately 1 km2. We propose a reassignment of the current conservation status of Z. lucayana from Endangered to Critically Endangered. Genetic data indicate that the three known populations of Z. lucayana should be considered a single management unit; however, the high number of private alleles suggests that genetic drift, indicative of recent fragmentation, is progressing. We propose in situ conservation recommendations. Furthermore, we collected germplasm for ex situ conservation from 24 populations from all the islands.



The Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve
Mark Daniels & Ethan H. Freid
The Bahamas National Trust, Nassau, P.O. Box N-4105, New Providence, The Bahamas

The Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve is the fulfillment of the vision of longtime Eleuthera winter residents Leon Levy and Shelby White, who loved the natural environment and way of life on Eleuthera. After Leon Levy’s death in 2003, Shelby White wanted to celebrate her husband’s devotion to the island while contributing to a better future for all Eleutherans.  Working with the Bahamas National Trust, she helped establish a native plant preserve where Bahamians and visitors can hike 1.25 miles of trail through the native Dry Broadleaf Evergreen Formation – Forest (coppice), Mangrove Wetlands, and view traditional medicinal and edible plants. The 25 acre Preserve has been designed as a research center for traditional bush medicine; a facility for the propagation of native plants; and an educational center focusing on the importance of native vegetation to the biodiversity of The Bahamas. Located in Governor’s Harbour, Eleuthera, the Preserve is operated by the Bahamas National Trust and funded by the Leon Levy Foundation. The Preserve is a living, dynamic representation of Bahamian history and culture as well as the first national park on the island of Eleuthera.

How RAD:  De Novo genetic analysis for an endangered species
Tonya D. Fotinos1,2, R. Varma Penmetsa3, Noelia Carrasquilla3, Jongmin  Baek3, Ethan Freid4, Francisco Jimenez Rodriguez5, Devon Powell2, Doug R. Cook3, Joyce Maschinski2 & Eric J von Wettberg1,2
Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199
2 Center for Tropical Plant Conservation, Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden, Coral Gables, FL 33156
3 Department of Plant Pathology, University of California Davis, Davis, Ca 95616
4 The Bahamas National Trust, Nassau, P.O. Box N-4105, New Providence, The Bahamas.
5 Department of Botany, Jardin Nacional Botanico de Republica Dominica, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Informative genetic markers are used as a proxy for traits or diversity of interest.  For organisms without a reference genome, this usually means a laborious discovery process.  Markers such as microsatellites, AFLPs (amplified fragment length polymorphisms) and RLPFs (restriction fragment length polymorphisms) have dominated genetics as the markers of choice for the last twenty years.  Although useful, these markers still have limitations. Next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies are opening new possibilities in evolutionary biology, population genetics, biomedicine, and conservation biology.  One such technology, Restriction Associated DNA (RAD) genotyping is a method that can identify thousands of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in non-model organisms. Because it employs hundreds to thousands of markers instead of a dozen or two, RAD analysis has unprecedented power to reveal past evolutionary relationships, historical population size, and patterns of kinship.   We utilized RAD to analyze genetic variation in the federally endangered Key Tree Cactus, Pilosocereus robinii, one of the rarest plants in the Florida Keys.  The Keys populations have been negatively affected by habitat degradation and sea level rise.  Twenty individuals were chosen for RAD sequencing that are representative of both wild and extirpated cacti from the populations in the Keys.  Samples were processed using the HindIII restriction enzyme and we obtained 151,829,113 high quality reads of which 82,382,440 were used for mapping.  Total number of discovered SNPs was 5,265.  Our genetic analysis will inform an ongoing reintroduction of P. robinii by providing insight into the current diversity and evolutionary history. 


Plant hunting expeditions of David Fairchild to the Bahama Archipelago
Javier Francisco-Ortega1,2, Nancy Korber2, Janet Mosely2, Marianne Swan2, Pericles Maillis3, Ethan Freid3 & Brett Jestrow2
1Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, U.S.A.
2Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables, Miami, FL 33156, U.S.A.
3The Bahamas National Trust, Nassau, P.O. Box N-4105, New Providence, The Bahamas

Dr. David Grandison Fairchild (1869–1954) was the founder of the Section of Seed and Plant Introduction of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1898. He is considered the pioneer of plant genetic resource exploration in the U.S.A. Located in Miami (Florida) The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden was established in 1938 and was named in honor of him by his founder Colonel Robert H. Montgomery (1872-1953). Between 1930 and 1933, David Fairchild visited the Bahama archipelago at least three times on board the research yacht Utowana. The expeditions were sponsored by the wealthy businessman Allison V. Armour. Relevant documents and photographs of these trips are found at the Archives of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. The three trips were part of larger biological expeditions targeting several regions of the Neotropics. They included zoologists from Harvard University and plant genetic specialists from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). During these expeditions David Fairchild visited 10 islands/islets, collected over 98 seed samples from 74 species, and took 131 photographs. Lizard and bird specimens were also collected during these expeditions.

A Bahamas Conservation Issue? The genus Scaevola and the Piping Plover
W. Hardy Eshbaugh1,  Matt Jeffrey2, and Walker Golder3
Department of Botany, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056
2International Alliances Program, Audubon, Washington, D.C, 20036
3Audubon North Carolina, Wilmington, NC 28411

The flowering plant genus Scaevola (Goodeniaceae) includes ca. 130 tropical species largely confined to Australia and Polynesia, including Hawaii. One species, Scaevola plumieri (Black Inkberry), first illustrated from the Bahamas (Vol 1, Plate 79) by Mark Catesby (1682/83-1749) in his Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands is widespread on beaches throughout the pantropical region. The first mention of Scaevola taccada in the Bahamas is by Hill (1976) on the east side of Cat Cay, Bimini and on Walker’s Cay, Abaco near the airstrip. Scaevola  taccada (Beach Naupaka) was first found on Andros Island  in 1980 by T.K. Wilson and D. Correll. It was later included it in the Flora of the Bahama Archipelago (Correll and Correll, 1982) and the Vascular Flora of Andros Island, Bahamas (Nickrent et al., 1988). In 1985 Eshbaugh and Wilson posed several questions about this species asking what was the original source of S. taccada in the Bahamas and once established what mechanisms led to the effective dispersal and colonization of this species in the Bahama archipelago. To these original questions the following can be added: what allows S. taccada, () to so effectively out compete S. plumieri (Black Inkberry) and displace it wherever it occurs and what are the biological and environmental impacts of S. taccada? Because S. taccada is an aggressive colonizer it has significant conservation implications for beach strand vegetation  and migrating shore birds. Transects indicate that it forms vegetation masses that are up to 65 feet deep along the beaches of North Andros Island. It displaces S. plumieri in most circumstances. It forms a monoculture that basically chokes out all other plants and often forms such dense mats that visiting shorebirds can no longer find shelter where it occurs. The Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus), an endangered species, has its major wintering populations in the Bahamas and thus may be negatively impacted by the invasive species, Scaevola taccada. Conservation biologists need to monitor Scaevola taccada to see how it is impacting the endangered Piping Plover and beach strand vegetation.

Pollination interactions of sympatric palms of southern Florida pine rocklands – a preliminary study
Suzanne Koptur & Roxaneh Khorsand Rosa
Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, U.S.A.

Three species of Arecaceae dominate the pine rockland in extreme southern Florida. While studying various wildflowers of this habitat, we have often observed our target study species to have very few flower visitors, while flowering palms host a wide array of visitors. We present here findings from a springtime flowering season study of Sabal palmetto, Serenoa repens, and Coccothrinax argentata, in which we asked the questions: 1) What are the visitors, and probable pollinators, of these three palms? 2) Do these palm species share pollinators? 3) Do they need pollination to set fruit? and 4) Are the palms self-compatible? Our results indicate that Coleoptera (beetles), Diptera (flies), Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, and ants), and Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) visit palm flowers, and most of these visitors carry palm pollen and are capable of transferring pollen to stigmas of the perfect flowers. Sabal palmetto and S. repens have floral nectar, and share many visitors; flowers of C. argentata, previously thought to be exclusively wind-pollinated, have no nectar but are also visited by a smaller array of bees, which collect and transfer pollen. Controlled hand-pollination experiments demonstrate that S. palmetto and S. repens are self-compatible, and flowers from which visitors are excluded set very little fruit. Inflorescences of C. argentata bagged to exclude visitors set a small amount of fruit, but much less than when inflorescences were not bagged. All these palms are self-compatible, and apparently depend upon visitors for pollination and fruit set.


Contrasting pollination systems of wild unction and devil’s potato root (Apocynaceae) on San Salvador: preliminary observations and analyses
Suzanne Koptur1, Tatyana Livshultz2, Gretchen Ionta3 & Ching-Wen Tan4
1Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, U.S.A.
2The Academy of Natural Sciences, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA 19103, U.S.A.
3Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, U.S.A.
4National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan

We studied the floral biology and pollination of two vining Apocynaceae species in December, 2011 on San Salvador.  Wild unction (Pentalinon luteum) has large yellow flowers that open early in the morning and last for one day; Devil’s potato root (Echites umbellatus) has long white flowers that open from mid-morning to the late afternoon and can last at least ten days, potentially longer.  Both have nectar and are visited by insects that collect it, picking up pollen via an interesting gluing process, ancestral to the pollinia-bearing apparatus found in members of the family with more highly modified flowers.  Both species have salverform corollas with a tube and rotate petals. The corolla tube of P. luteum flares into a bell, resulting in a much wider throat than that of E. umbellatus. In addition, P. luteum has apical anther appendages that twist together and protrude like a tongue into the flower throat. The very long narrow tube of E. umbellatus has spiral channels that guide the long tongue of the pollinators to the nectar at the base of the tube.  In both flowers, the mouthparts of pollinators reaching for nectar, are trapped by the anther margins and guided first to the receptive stigma, then the glue, and finally the pollen for export. Only very long tongues can reach the nectar of E. umbellatus.  We observed butterflies to be the main visitors to P. luteum, and occasionally bees. Observations day and night revealed no visitors to E. umbellatus, but we expect that they are visited by hawkmoths, as the flowers develop a sweet smell in the late evening that gets stronger through the night, and scales from lepidopteran wings were found inside one flower.  Some flowers of both species were pollinated during the time they were open, since we found pollen deposited on the stigmatic area.  Echites umbellatus flowers produce about 2.5 times as many pollen grains and ovules as do those of P. luteum, but the pollen to ovule ratios are very similar (42 and 48, respectively).  We attempted hand-pollinations to elucidate breeding systems but results were inconclusive, indicating the need for further experimentation.

The Bahamian collections of Donovan and Helen Correll at the Archives of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Nancy Korber1, Mary Ellen Gelberg1, Janet Mosely1, Marianne Swan1, Ethan Freid2, Brett Jestrow1 & Javier Francisco-Ortega3,1
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables, Miami, FL 33156, U.S.A.
2The Bahamas National Trust, Nassau, P.O. Box N-4105, New Providence, The Bahamas
3Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, U.S.A.
Sponsored by Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and the US National Science Foundation the latest comprehensive flora of The Bahama Archipelago was published in 1982. This project was initiated by William T. Gillis (1933–1979), but the final work was authored by Donovan Correll (1908–1983) and Helen Correll (1907–2000) and illustrated by Priscilla Fawcett (1932-2012). Donovan and Helen Correll worked as Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden scientists between 1973 and 1983. The Archives of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden hold their correspondence, research documents, and photographs. They include an unpublished autobiography of Donovan Correll and 89 field pocket-books that were used during his plant hunting expeditions all over the world. Relevant to the Bahama Archipelago, the Corrells’ collections have over 40 letters and a limited number of photographs. The Fairchild archives also have a final draft manuscript of the flora that includes several records for the Bahamian flora. Documents pertinent to William Gillis’ work are limited to correspondence with the National Science Foundation and with Donovan Correll. Based on the information found in the archives we know that the Corrells made over 100 field trips to the archipelago and that over 30 islands and many smaller cays were visited. A total of ~11,000 herbarium collections were made and 15 of the endemic species described by the Corrells or Gillis are currently accepted by taxonomists working in the region. Four endemic species have been dedicated to them. Aristida correlia (Poaceae) was named after Helen Correll in 1990. It is the most recent endemic species described for the archipelago.


Priscilla Fawcett Norstog, plant illustrator, 1932-2012
Nancy Korber1, Javier Francisco-Ortega2,1,P. B. Tomlinson1, Mary Ellen Gelberg1, Carol Dietrick1, Janet Mosely1  & Brett Jestrow1
1Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables, Miami, FL 33156, U.S.A.
2Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, U.S.A.
Priscilla Fawcett Norstog (1932-2012) was a well-respected plant illustrator whose drawings exhibited exceptional detail and accuracy. Although self-taught, she worked for years with well-known botanists, illustrating many kinds of plant species and structures. She was born in the United Kingdom and worked there with Dr. William T. Stearn (Natural History Museum of London) and Dr. Harold St. John (University of Hawaii) before moving to the United States, where she started working with the first research botanist hired by Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, P. B. Tomlinson. She was a full-time illustrator for Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden from 1965-1989. One of her most impressive achievements is the illustration of 718 plants included in the Flora of the Bahama Archipelago. During the research for this publication she worked alongside Dr. Donovan Correll and Dr. Helen Correll to include at least one species from each genus in the publication. In addition, she drew many other illustrations for other researchers. Her illustrations appeared in over 25 books and at least 25 peer-reviewed journals. During her lifetime it is estimated she completed more than 30,000 black & white drawings.  Many of those drawings are now housed at the Priscilla Fawcett Collection of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Archive.


Botanical research and conservation work in the Turks and Caicos Islands
B. Naqqi Manco, Eric F. Salamanca, Kathleen Wood & Junel Blaise
Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs, Turks and Caicos Islands Government

 As a United Kingdom Overseas Territory, Turks and Caicos Islands is politically fragmented from the Bahama Archipelago. Botanical research and conservation has been largely driven by local botanists and ecologists and supported by a number of international NGOs and other institutions. The Caicos Pine Recovery Project, a species survival project for the National Tree of TCI Pinus caribaea var. bahamensis; the Rescue & Collection of Endemic & Endangered Plants Project; and the Seed Collection Project are funded and supported by UK Government Programmes and UK NGOs, with partnerships from other institutions. Terrestrial vegetative habitat mapping has also been completed with support from the UK Government. The establishment of Native Plant Nurseries and Gardens has been a continuing effort, as has mangrove habitat restoration through planting events. Red-listing of TCIs plants is another ongoing initiative with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Work continues on botanical research and conservation as an increasingly high priority within TCI Government departments.


Rescue and collection of endemic & endangered plants project: Turks and Caicos Islands
B. Naqqi Manco, Junel Blaise, Eric F. Salamanca, Kathleen Wood
Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs, Turks and Caicos Islands Government

 The Turks and Caicos Islands Department of Environment & Maritime Affairs (DEMA) was awarded two funding contributions by the United Kingdom government’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee for the Rescue and Collection of Endemic & Endangered Plants Project in 2011. The project funding supports efforts to remove globally threatened plants (endemic to TCI, the Bahama Archipelago, or the Caribbean Basin; or endangered by IUCN or CITES classification) from development land, and research in propagation techniques in DEMA’s Native Plant Biodiversity Conservation Nurseries. The project’s original aims for 10 then 20 species have been far surpassed, with over 105 endemic or endangered species now grown in the nurseries and propagation protocols written for 84 of these species. Work is supported by training and in-kind assistance from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the TCI Environmental Club. Rescued plants have been planted in community gardens by DEMA, schools, and NGOs. Work continues with the aim to get all nine of TCI’s endemic plants into cultivation in the nurseries.


First controlled burning in the Turks and Caicos pineyard. Introduction of fire as a management tool
Eric F. Salamanca1, Bryan Manco1, Nicholas Turner2, Martin Hamilton3, Marcella Corcorran3, Joe O’Brien4, David Grimm5, Ben Honsby4, Henry Wilson1, Susan Malcolm7/, Sally Rampersad7, Lormeka Williams, Chris Bergh6, Judnel Blaise1, Kenol Joseph1, Jennifer Mark7 & Alex Hudson7
Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs, Turks and Caicos Islands Government
2Department of Agriculture, Turks and Caicos Islands Government
3Royal Botanic Gardens-Kew, United Kingdom
4US Forest Service, U.S.A.
5US Home Defense, U.S.A.
6The Nature Conservancy. U.S.A.
7Imperial College, London, United Kingdom
8Ministry of Environment and Home Affairs, Turks and Caicos Islands Government

The “Caicos pine” Pinus caribaea var. bahamensis is threatened by the invasive pine tortoise scale Toumeyella parvicornis introduced by importation of live Christmas trees. Since 2005 the scale spread, killing around 90% of the pines in TCI. TCI government funded the Caicos Pine Recovery Project (2008-2009); later the UK’s Overseas Territories Environment Program provided a 3-year grant (2010-2013) to continue the project. One of the project’s aims is to introduce controlled burning to determine if prescribed fire can enhance natural regeneration of pine; to find out if fire will affect the scale insect; and to ­­document plant succession following fire. Two controlled burn plots triangular in shape, with leg lengths 100 m were established. The first controlled burn occurred 9 May 2012. The lessons learned are as follows: i) Appropriate preparatory works are required. ii) Burn Plan and Incident Command System is required (equipment, weather conditions, chain of command, safety & medical plan, evacuation plan, availability of water, Go/No Go checklist, communication system). iii) Fuel level & type must be adequate, iv) Knowledge of fire behavior is imperative, v) Post-burn assessment and cleanup is vital, and; vi)  Team work—collaborative effort is fundamental to success.



Phylogenetic analyses of Caribbean species of Ayenia L. (Malvaceae; Byttnerioideae)
Wyatt V. Sharber & Barbara A. Whitlock
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124, U.S.A.

Ayenia L. is a monophyletic genus of approximately 70 species of shrubs and subshrubs found in tropical to warm regions in the Americas. Nine species are native to the Caribbean, including A. euphrasifolia in South Florida, and A. insulicola and A. tenuicaulis in the Bahamas. We analyze chloroplast DNA sequences from species native to the Caribbean as well as North, Central, and South American to test hypotheses of relationships and identify the number of lineages in the Caribbean. Additionally, we examine the data for biogeographical patterns that may explain the current distribution of Caribbean species of Ayenia.

Human impacts on coastal and marine plant biodiversity on small Bahamian Islands
 Kathleen Sullivan Sealey
Department of Biological Sciences, University of  Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124, U.S.A.

A 10-year project to characterize, then assess, the health of coastal environments of The Bahamas ranked a total of 238 sites on 10 different islands. Satellite images and aerial photography were used to identify coastal types (beach, mangroves, rocky shore) and then field surveys ranked four types of anthropogenic impacts from physical alterations to occurrence of Invasive Alien Species of coastal plants (IAS) as well as adjacent marine plants in the near shore marine environment. A system of coastal ranking is presented using numerical scores for four criteria along with terrestrial and marine plant surveys to examine the intactness of the coastal environment, specifically the health of land-sea interfaces that protect processes regulating water and nutrient flux. The mean impact rank for all sites was 5.7 ± 4.3 out of 20; meaning medium impacts from at least two of the four criteria. Only one island (Cay Sal Cay) had impacts scores of “None”. Patterns of coastal alterations differed between islands and over time. Coastal classification by substrate and water energy corresponded with characteristic vegetation structure but unique plant species composition from island to island. Over 77% of all the sites surveyed had abundant occurrences of the IAS Australian pine (Casuarina equestifolia). A system of ranking coastal environments based on types of human impacts, plant diversity and presence of IAS can help target areas for conservation as well as the feasibility for coastal restoration.


Applying the theory of island biogeography to explain species diversity and abundance within individual trees
Shawn J. Wurs & Lauren G. Ruane
Department of Organismal and Environmental Biology, Christopher Newport University, Newport News, VA 23606,  U.S.A.          

The theory of island biogeography proposes that island size and island isolation are the major factors in predicting species diversity on islands.  In this study we determine whether this theory can be extended to explain species diversity and abundance within individual trees.  Black and red mangrove trees, which occupy tropical coastlines, provide a habitat for a wide range of species including insects, mollusks, spiders, birds and crustaceans. During a seven-day experiment on Hummingbird Cay in the Bahamas, we surveyed the diversity and abundance of species that inhabited 38 mangrove trees.  Seventeen of these trees were isolated while the other 21 trees were located within dense mangrove forests.  A forward stepwise regression revealed that both tree size and tree isolation significantly affected the diversity and abundance of species living within each tree (P<0.01).  In concordance with the theory of island biogeography, smaller trees that were more isolated harbored fewer species and fewer individuals.  Our results suggest that the theory of island biogeography can be extended to predict species diversity and abundance within individual trees.

Updated: October 28, 2012