BRAGGINS, JOHN E.1, JOHN J. ENGEL2, MATTHEW J. VON KONRAT2*, and PETER J. DE LANGE3. 1Plant Science, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand; 2The Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois 60605-2496, U.S.A.; 3Science & Research Unit, Department of Conservation, Private Bag 68908, Auckland, New Zealand. - Rare and threatened liverworts: an overlooked area of conservation in the New Zealand botanical region.
New Zealand is an archipelago that is both geographically and
climatically diverse. Recently, it has been stated that the decline in
biological diversity is New Zealand's most pervasive environmental
issue. The impact of potential pressures such as micro-habitat loss
and fragmentation on the liverwort flora have not been previously
investigated. This is alarming because it is estimated that New
Zealand has c. 10% of the world's liverwort species, and more
importantly, has 48 of the 73 liverwort families. Because of these
factors together with the high level of endemism, the liverwort flora
of New Zealand is considered to be of worldwide significance. First,
this study identified potential threats to the New Zealand liverwort
flora, and second, developed a preliminary checklist of threatened
liverworts to be considered as candidates for the World Red List.
Selection of species was based on field studies spanning three
decades, extensive herbarium records, and bibliographic references.
Case studies illustrating the different categories of threat occurring
in New Zealand include examples from a monotypic family and a
monotypic genus. We conclude that research relating to the
conservation biology of the New Zealand hepatic flora requires great
urgency and recommend areas of priority.
Key words: conservation, liverworts, New Zealand, rare and threatened liverworts