Major challenges for biodiversity and conservation assessment in Myanmar are the data availability and monography as field observations are very scarce spatially and temporarily, moreover, the fern flora has never been updated since 1946. Therefore, efforts to obtain the local assessments are urgently needed before having local vegetation reduced to small remnants.
In a study published in Global Ecology and Conservation, researchers form Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) completed the first evaluation of pteridophyte (i.e. a division of plants including the ferns and their allies) conservation status using the global occurrence data and assessment of the conservation gaps and priority regions.
Diversity and priority indices such as species richness, compositions and conservation status for IUCN criterion B of 603 species were observed to define the regions and hotspots of Myanmar. Forty-five species of which were assigned to data deficient category having less than three occurrences. Indices were demonstrated in regional level of states and regions in Myanmar and local levels of 0.5-degree gridded cells.
The preliminary conservation status uncovers the current status of pteridophyte species, i.e. five percent of global pteridophytes diversity, and the priority regions for sustainable management and conservation planning.
Species richness was highest in Kachin (389 species), followed by Shan (181 spp.), and Chin (127 spp.). The highest turnover was recorded of Ayeyarwady (0.91), Rakhine (0.91), and Magway (0.90). Seventeen percent of evaluated species was assigned into threatened categories. The value of pixels varied from 1 to 153 for species richness, 0.89 to 0.96 for species turnover rate and 1 to 31 for number of threatened species. The overlap between existing protected area and hotspots was 100% and 67% for above 95th and 90th percentile respectively.
“Pteridophyte inventories for further evaluations are needed to enhance the precision and accuracy of conservation status assessments of pteridophyte species in the rapidly transforming landscapes of Myanmar”, said principal investigator of the study.