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Abstract Detail

The North American Coastal Plain: a Global Biodiversity Hotspot

Platt, William [1].

The North American Coastal Plain: a Global Biodiversity Hotspot.

The North American Coastal Plain region ranks among the world's 36 biodiversity hotspots. The Atlantic and Gulf geological coastal plains, which extend from southeastern Massachusetts to southern Florida and westward along the Gulf of Mexico to Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon in northeastern Mexico, contain ~8250 species of vascular plants, of which 6170 are native and 1748 (21%) are endemic. A subset, the Coastal Plain Floristic Province, supports 5397 native vascular plants (1588 endemic). The Coastal Plain also contains 1133 vertebrates, of which 203 (18%) are endemic at the species level and 392 (32%) at the subspecies level. High vegetation diversity, despite small geological diversity (elevations are <250m), reflects both deep phylogenetic diversity within many groups of plants and major ecological adaptation to a range of subtly different fire-frequented environments. Over ½ of the endemic species of plants are associated with longleaf pine savannas, reflecting the long evolutionary history of these habitats and ecological diversification in environments that range from xeric sand and clay hills to wet prairies and marshes. This region has experienced extensive destruction and degradation (>75%) from conversion to agriculture, forestry, fire suppression, and human development. Existing conservation efforts, focused on larger somewhat intact areas (e.g., national forests, military bases), have been hampered by slow development and application of adaptive fire and soil management based in scientific studies. This biodiversity hotspot is also at high risk from sea level rise anticipated if global climate change continues unabated.

Broader Impacts:

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1 - Louisiana State University, Department of Biological Sciences, 202 LSB, Baton Rouge, LA, 70803, USA, 225/578-6586

plant species biodiversity hotspot
evolutionary and ecological adaptation
geological coastal plain
fire adaptation
longleaf pine savannas.

Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: SY08
Location: Elmwood/Riverside Hilton
Date: Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
Time: 1:30 PM
Number: SY08001
Abstract ID:22
Candidate for Awards:None

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