Project: Serpentine areas of Guamuhaya Mountains: a hot spot of Cuban flora which needs protection




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Final Report


Project: Serpentine areas of Guamuhaya Mountains: a hot spot of Cuban flora which needs protection


Supported by
Rufford Small Grant for Nature Conservation

Address contact: Luis Roberto González-Torres


lrgonzaleztorres@gmail.com

Date of report submitting: April 7th, 2006



I. Summary

Floristic surveys were conducted in the serpentine areas of Guamuhaya Moutains in the Summer of 2005. We found 233 plants, 55 of them are endemic and Rondeletia bicolor (from the Coffee family –Rubiaceae) is restricted to a single area. The serpentine areas are strongly damaged by human activities such us grazing, quarrying, forestry and agriculture. A document supporting the proposal of El Tibisial and Gavilanes outcrops –the largest and better conserved areas, as reserves was prepared. This document includes (1) a plant species check list of each serpentine outcrop, (2) a commented list of the threats to plant species and/or communities with suggestions to their control, (3) data about endangered plant species, and (4) recommendations about the management and conservation of these communities. The Environmental Education Program is focussed on building capacity by providing training to environmental education activists. Over 15 environmental activists, representing protected areas in Central Cuba, attended the Environmental Training Workshop, which was held from July 15-17, 2004 in Santa Clara, Cuba. Two training courses one week long were taught to 29 undergraduates and 10 technicians from surrounding local reserves. Both courses were aimed to teach and practice census, monitoring and sampling techniques. Four team members participated in the First Workshop for the Conservation of Cuban Threatened Trees and compiled the Red List of Cuban Vascular Flora.



II. Project Progress




A.Goals and Objectives

The aim of this project is to obtain the necessary information to support the proposal of the serpentine areas of Guamuhaya Mountains as a Flora Refuge (Protected Area).


Our objectives are:
(1) to make a floristic survey of Guamuhaya Mountains serpentine areas,
(2) to identify threats to plants and/or communities,
(3) to increase public and government awareness about the importance of these areas to Cuban plant diversity,
(4) to gather information to categorize endangered native flora, and
(5) to gather information to future management and conservation plans of these areas.

B.Results achieved (results numbers are related with objectives numbers)

(1) Floristic survey


The 16 ultramafic outcrops reported by Formel (1989) to the Guamuhaya range were visited but only 5 of them are composed by serpentine rocks. The other outcrops are mixed with quartz and/or limestone covered by non serpentine plants.
A floristic survey was conducted in the five serpentine areas of Guamuhaya Moutains. We found 233 plants, 55 of them are endemic (Table 1) and Rondeletia bicolor (from the Coffee family –Rubiaceae) is restricted to a single area (see Anex for a complete vascular plant list with their distribution).
Table 1. List of the endemic vascular plants of Guamuhaya Massif


Endemic species

Acuneanthus tinifolius (Griseb.) Borhidi

Agave brittoniana Trel.

Andira cubensis Bentham

Annona bullata A.Rich.

Baccharis halimifolia var. angustior DC.

Badiera virgata Britton

Begonia banaoensis J. Sierra

Belairia savannarum Bisse

Bourreria virgata (Sw.) G.Don

Brunfelsia nitida Benth.

Casearia sylvestris subsp. myricoides (Griseb.) J.E. Gut.

Chamaesyce brittonii (Millsp.) Millsp.

Chaptalia rocana Britton & P. Wilson

Coccoloba retusa Griseb.

Coccothrinax miraguama (Kunth) León

Croton rectangularis Urb.

Encyclia phoenicea (Lindl.) Neuman

Erythroxylum banaoensis Oviedo

Erythroxylum claraense Borhidi

Eugenia asperifolia Berg.

Evolvulus minimus Ooststr.

Garcinia aristata (Griseb.) Borhidi

Guettarda calyptrata A. Rich.

Hyptis minutifolia Griseb.

Ilex clementis Britton & P. Wilson

Ipomoea clarensis Alain

Machaonia subinermis subsp. armata Borhidi et M. Fern. Zeq

Mesechites rosea (A. DC.) Miers

Michania reticulosa Wright

Myrica punctata Griseb.

Neobracea valenzuelana (A. Rich) Urb.

Ossaea lanata (Naudin) C.Wright ex Griseb.

Passiflora cubensis Urb.

Petitia domingensis Jacq.

Phyllanthus discolor Poepp.

Phyllanthus orbicularis Humb. Bonpl. & Kunth

Platygyne hexandra (Jacq.) Müll. Arg.

Polygala saginoides Griseb.

Pseudocarpidium ilicifolium (A.Rich.) Millsp.

Psidium balium Urb.

Rondeletia bicolor Britton

Rondeletia leonis Britton

Scolosanthus crucifer Wr.ex Sauv.

Securidaca elliptica Turcz.

Simarouba leavis Griseb.

Suberanthus neriifolius (A.Rich.) Borhidi & M. Fern. Zeq.

Symplocos martiniscensis subsp. strigillosa (Krug & Urb.) Mai.

Tabebuia lepidota (Humb. Bonpl. & Kunth) Britton

Tapura obovata Britton & P.Wilson

Terminalia neglecta Bisse

Tetrazygia coriaceae Urb.

Vernonia cubensis Griseb. var. cubensis

Vernonia fallax Gleason

Vernonia menthaefolia (Poepp. Ex Spreng.) Less

Zamia ottonis Miq.

(2) Threats for plants and communities


Threats were identified during plant surveys.
All these serpentine areas are very damaged by human activities such us grazing, quarrying, forestry, and agriculture. Grazing or agriculture produce the most drastic changes in plant diversity and community structure due to these activities occupy completely the outcrops and eliminate by burning the native flora. Although, pine forestry usually cover the whole outcrop this activity do not lead to a significantly change in species composition and richness. Species richness in pine forestry sites do not differ from non disturbed ones if fire is not used in land preparation.
The following table shows the threats identified in each serpentine area.


Threat

Capitolio

San Pablo

Limones

Gavilanes

El Tibisial

Quarrying

X




X

X




Grazing

X

X

X




X

Agriculture

X

X










Forestry




X




X




Allien invasion

X

X










Urbanization

X

X

X






(3) Public and government awareness about the importance of these areas




  • A document supporting the proposal of El Tibisial and Gavilanes outcrops as protected areas was sent to the National Center of Protected Areas (institution which entrust the design, management and control of the Protected Areas National System in Cuba). This document included:




    1. a plant species check list of each serpentine outcrop,

    2. a commented list of the threats to plant species and/or communities with suggestions to their control,

    3. data about endangered plant species, and

    4. recommendations about the management and conservation of these communities.




  • The Environmental Education Program is focussed on building capacity by providing training to environmental education activists. Over 15 environmental activists, representing protected areas in Central Cuba, attended the Environmental Training Workshop, which was held from July 15-17, 2004 in Santa Clara, Cuba. The Workshop provided an opportunity for discuss and exchange experience on environmental education techniques, and to learn about the methodology of “Teaching Ecology in the School Yard” (TESY). This is an environmental education alternative easy to implement without expensive equipment. (This workshop was also supported by a BP Conservation Programme Award).




  • Project achievements were diffused by interviews on national radio stations (Radio Rebelde, Radio Progreso, Radio COCO, Radio Metropolitana). A project updates were published in the Cuban National Botanical Garden website.




  • The project results and the photographic material are being used in the Environmental Education Program that is carried out by the Botanical Gardens Network and the University of Havana. This information also used in different undergraduate and graduate courses (Botany, Phytogeography, Ecology and Conservation Biology, as study cases).




  • Two training course one week long were organized for undergraduates and technicians from surrounding local reserves. Both courses were aimed to teach and practice census, monitoring and sampling techniques. A total of 40 people attended to both courses. One course on pollination biology was taught to undergraduates (30 students) and a training course on this subject was taught to undergraduates and reserves technicians (9 peoples). (Training courses were also supported by a BP Conservation Programme Award).

(4) Information for categorizing endangered native flora




  • Four team members participated in the First Workshop for the Conservation of Cuban Threatened Trees.




  • Four team members compiled the Red List of Cuban Vascular Flora. (This book was published with the support of the Atlantic Botanic Garden)

(5) Information for managing and conservation plans of these areas




  • The plant species inventory, the list of threats for plant species and/or communities, data about endangered plant species, and recommendations for managing and conservation is compiled in the document submitted to the National Center of Protected Areas (institution which entrust the design, management and control of the Protected Areas National System in Cuba).



C.Difficulties





  • The tax of all products increased 5 or 10 % during the project then we have to readjust the budget. We prioritized field work more than lab analysis.



D.Impacts on conservation





  • First inventory of vascular plants of Guamuhaya serpentine areas.

  • More than 60 people (undergraduates, postgraduates, technicians) have received training in field work and/or environmental education techniques.

  • The environmental workshop allows increase awareness about the main problems of these areas. Environmental activists also learned techniques that can be applied to work with teachers, adult people and children.

  • Undergraduate student received training in fieldwork methods and flora identification during the project.

  • Plant diversity data of the region is now available –after publication all the data will be published in the Cuban National Botanical Garden web site. Results were also presented in national and international meetings.

  • One Master in Science thesis was successful presented and two BS theses are being prepared to be presented next June 2006.

  • A new population of the critically endangered Magnolia acunae was found in an adjacent patch of tropical rain forest at El Tibisial.

  • The palm of the genus Coccothrinax found at El Tibisial could be a new species. Cuban specialists are working with the material.

  • Herbarium specimens from the region were collected for current studies on Cuban flora.




  1. Professional Growth during reporting period.


Grants and Awards
BP Conservation Programme Bronze Award 2004
Grant from the BCSS Conservation Committee 2004, 2005
Grant from the BCSS Research Committee 2005
Alumni Grant from the BP Conservation Programme 2005, 2006
Symposiums and Meetings presentations
Berazaín Iturralde R., Areces Berazaín F., Lazcano Lara J.C., Gonzalez Torres L.R. La Lista Roja de la Flora Vascular Cubana. II Congreso de Biología de la Conservación. Septiembre, 2005. Jardín Botánico Atlantico, Gijón-España.
Berazaín Iturralde R., Areces Berazaín F., Lazcano Lara J.C., Gonzalez Torres L.R. La Lista Roja de la Flora Vascular Cubana. IX Encuentro Johannes Bisse In Memoriam, Enero 2005. Universidad Pedagógica José Martí; Camagüey. Cuba.
Gonzalez-Torres L.R., Berazaín R., Bécquer E., Matos J., Palmarola A., Vázquez A., Rodríguez Y., Torres A. Human disturbs in endemic-rich ultramafic plant communities: their consequences on floristic composition, richness and vegetation. 19th Annual Meeting of the Society of Conservation Biology. 15-19 July 2005. University of Brasilia, Brazil.
Rodríguez Calvo Y., Bécquer Granados E., González Torres L.R., Palmarola Bejerano A., Vázquez Glaria A. Relación del tipo de hábitat con el número de flores y de flores fecundadas por inflorescencia en Pachyanthus clementis (Melastomataceae). IX Encuentro Johannes Bisse In Memoriam, Enero 2005. Universidad Pedagógica José Martí; Camagüey. Cuba.
Vázquez Glaria A., González Torres L.R., Bécquer Granados E., Palmarola Bejerano A., Rodríguez Calvo Y. Notas sobre la flora y vegetación de la región ultramáfica de Guamuhaya, Cuba Central. IX Encuentro Johannes Bisse In Memoriam, Enero 2005. Universidad Pedagógica José Martí; Camagüey. Cuba.
Gonzalez-Torres, LR., Berazaín, R. Patrones regionales de diversidad de la flora ultramáfica de Cuba. Accepted to be presented at the V Internacional Conference on Serpentine Ecology. Siena, Italy, May 9-13.
Berazaín, R., Gonzalez-Torres, LR., Areces, B., Lazcano, L. Flora ultramáfica amenazada de Cuba. Accepted to be presented at the V Internacional Conference on Serpentine Ecology. Siena, Italy, May 9-13.

Publications
Gonzalez-Torres, LR. 2004. Patrones regionales de diversidad de la flora ultramáfica de Cuba. MS Thesis. Cuban National Botanical Garden, University of Havana.
Berazaín Iturralde R., Areces Berazaín F., Lazcano Lara J.C., Gonzalez Torres L.R. 2005. Lista Roja de la Flora Vascular Cubana. Documentos 4. Jardín Botánico Atlántico, Gijón.
Rodríguez, Y. 2006. Aspectos sobre la biología reproductive de Pachyanthus clementis, un arbusto endémico de Guamuhaya. BS Thesis. Cuban National Botanical Garden, University of Havana. (to be presented in June 2006)
Vázquez, A. 2006. Flora y vegetación de las serpentinas de Guamuhaya. BS Thesis. Cuban National Botanical Garden, University of Havana. (to be presented in June 2006)
González-Torres, L.R. Vázquez, A., Berazaín, R. Bécquer, E. Palmarola, A. Plant diversity, vegetation and conservation of Guamuhaya serpentine areas. (In preparation).
Vázquez, A., González-Torres, L.R. Berazaín, R. Bécquer, E. Flora de la región ultramáfica de Guamuhaya. (Submitted to Rev. Jard. Bot. Nac. Univ. Hab.)
Palmarola, A., Vázquez, A., González-Torres, L.R. Berazaín, R. Bécquer, E., Cuza, A. Valoración de las serpentinas de Gavilanes y El Tibisial (Guamuhaya) como áreas protegidas para la conservación de la flora serpentinícola de Guamuhaya. (Submitted to Rev. Jard. Bot. Nac. Univ. Hab.)
Scientific Degrees


  • One MS dissertation

  • One Ph.D. thesis in progress

  • Five BS theses in progress, two of them will be presented in June 2006.



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