Abutilon pitcairnense 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Malvales Malvaceae

Scientific Name: Abutilon pitcairnense Fosberg
Common Name(s):
English Yellow Fatu, Yellow Fautu

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Extinct in the Wild ver 3.1
Year Published: 2018
Date Assessed: 2017-10-24
Assessor(s): Bárrios, S. & Smyth, N.
Reviewer(s): Clubbe, C.P.

Abutilon pitcairnense was first discovered on Pitcairn Island by Miss Rosalind Young in 1898. It was presumed extinct until another Pitcairn resident re-discovered a flowering specimen in the native forest in 2003. Despite conservation efforts, the last wild surviving plant died in a landslide in 2005, making the plant Extinct in the Wild. Ex situ conservation efforts to grow and reintroduce the species into its natural habitat, were carried out on Pitcairn island and one ex situ conservation site remains on island. The native vegetation of Pitcairn still needs to be restored and invasive species need to be removed and controlled. This species is assessed as Extinct in the Wild.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Abutilon pitcairnense is an endemic plant species to the island of Pitcairn. Pitcairn is a small island, around 4 km in diameter, located in the South Central Pacific Ocean. Together with the islands of Henderson, Ducie and Oeno it forms part of the Pitcairn Island Group, a UK Overseas Territory. This species was initially collected on Pitcairn by Miss Rosalind Young in 1898 from Palver Valley Ridge but only described as a new species in 1981 by Fosberg. It was seen in the wild in 1955 by I.T. Twyford and collected by H. St. John in 1934. However, it was not found during the flora and vegetation survey of 1997, despite searches of known locations (Kingston 2001). It was re-discovered in 2003 at Tesdide by local islander Carol Warren. Cuttings and seeds were collected and propagated from this rediscovery and replanted at this location. In January 2005, a landslide on the island destroyed the original Tedside plant and three planted seedlings at this location. Despite efforts, this species has not been relocated in the wild ever since (Smyth et al. 2010). It survives in conservation collections ex situ.

Countries occurrence:
Regionally extinct:
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:0Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:0
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):Yes
Number of Locations:0
Lower elevation limit (metres):5
Upper elevation limit (metres):330
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species has always been recorded as rare on Pitcairn Island. When it was re-discovered in 2003 only one individual was observed. No wild individuals survived from the 2005 landslide (Smyth et al. 2010). There has been an observed decline on the area, extent and quality of habitat, due to landslides and the negative effect of invasive species.
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:0Continuing decline of mature individuals:No
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

This species is a spreading shrub, growing up to 1 metre, with nodding bell-shaped yellow flowers. Flowering time in the wild occurred between July and August. It was known from unstable slopes in the native forest (Smyth 2008, Smyth et al. 2010).

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There are no known uses for this species.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

There are considerable challenges in preserving the remaining forest, where this species was found. The native species in the forest are being out competed by the non-native, introduced species Syzygium jambos L. (Alston) and other invasive species such as Lantana camara L. (Smyth et al. 2010). Syzygium jambos L. (Alston) locally known as roseapple, was originally brought to the island for fuel wood. However, because of its aggressive growth and the decline of it being harvested for fuel, the plants have become very large trees. Their branches spread laterally, forming a dense canopy and stopping native species from regenerating. Adding to this pressure, heavy soil erosion is also degrading this species’ habitat (Smyth 2008).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Protecting native plants and their habitats has been recognized as a priority for the Pitcairn Islands by its local government. In 2003 a nursery was established on the island. Native species have been propagated on the island, where a small ex situ collection of this species remains. Cuttings were also brought to National Botanic Gardens Glasnevin and Trinity College Dublin in Ireland and later to England to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew's Tropical Nursery. These plants have flowered and set seed. The 2010 seeds harvested from the National Botanic Gardens Glasnevin were banked at Glasnevin, at Kew's Millennium Seed Bank and also sent to the native species nursery on Pitcairn Island. Species recovery research has been partly funded by the Mohammed Bin Zayed Conservation Fund. Genetic studies were performed on several samples from wild and clone origin. It was proved that the degree of polymorphism in the population was reduced when the original plant and planted seedlings were destroyed in the 2005 landslide. The genetic variation of the ex situ collections is thought to be reduced with only one clone in existence comparing to the variation which might once have existed in the original populations. Habitat restoration by removing and controlling invasive species is essential for a successful re-introduction of this species.

Citation: Bárrios, S. & Smyth, N. 2018. Abutilon pitcairnense. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T122926206A122926208. . Downloaded on 22 September 2018.
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