Comparative seed biology and the future of orchid conservation in Central Africa, with a particular emphasis on the genus Cyrtorchis Schltr.  (CONAFRO II)

Programme : American Orchid Society (AOS, USA)
Durée : 2014 - 2018

Mots clés

Angraecoid orchid, Cameroon, Central African rainforest, Cyrtorchis, IUCN conservation status, pollination, seed bank, shadehouse.

Résumé

Tropical rainforests of Central Africa are disappearing at an alarming rate. Conserving plant diversity in this area should be a top priority for the next decades and alternative approaches are urgently needed to assist and complement in situ species conservation activities, because we cannot at this time adequately assure persistence of viable populations in the wild.
Orchidaceae are the largest and one of the most charismatic plant families, representing about 10% of the world vascular plants diversity and 6% of the flora of tropical Africa. In order to guarantee their conservation, intensive field surveys conducted by our teams in Central Africa have helped to collect and cultivate more than 300 African orchid species using a regional network of plant shadehouses (http://www.orchid-africa.net/ombriere.asp). Using these collections, we propose to establish in Cameroon the first orchid seed bank in tropical Africa. Moreover, we plan to improve our taxonomic knowledge on the genus Cyrtorchis and use this genus as a model to study more in-depth the reproductive biology of the tropical African orchids.
In the present project, we plan to document viability and bank live seeds of 25% of the orchid diversity of Central Africa (about 150 species), focussing on the more threatened species. A duplicate collection of all seeds produced from plants in the shadehouse will be conserved by the The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, the largest ex situ plant conservation program in the world. Associated data collected uring the project will serve to update the IUCN conservation status of African orchids. The results will be disseminated through popular and scientific papers, our website dedicated to Central African orchids (www.orchid-africa.net) and other portals related to orchid (http://www.osssu.org/) and biodiversity conservation (http://www.iucnredlist.org).

Collaborations

  • Université de Yaoundé 1 (Cameroun)
  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (UK)