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Abies koreana

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
PLANTAE TRACHEOPHYTA PINOPSIDA PINALES PINACEAE

Scientific Name: Abies koreana
Species Authority: E.H.Wilson
Common Name(s):
English Korean Fir

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B2ab(ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2010-09-07
Assessor(s): Kim, Y.-S., Chang, C.-S., Kim, C.-S. & Gardner, M.
Reviewer(s): Thomas, P. & Farjon, A.
Justification:
The Korean Fir (Abies koreana) has an estimated area of occupancy (AOO) of about 12 km²It occurs in four fragmented locations; Mt. Gaya, Mt. Chiri and Mt. Togyu on the mainland and Mt. Halla on the remote Jeju Island. The distances between each location range from 40–250 km and are likely to be too great to allow for effective gene flow. There is clear and documented evidence of a continuing decline in the AOO and quality of habitat due to a number of factors which include the effects of climate change, pathogen attack and on Mt. Halla the invasion of pines and bamboo (Sasa). For these reasons A. koreana has been assessed as Endangered. The conservation status of this species needs to be carefully monitored as if there is a further reduction of the current AOO of 12 km² to 10 km² or below, then it will qualify as Critically Endangered.
History:
1998 Lower Risk/near threatened (Oldfield et al. 1998)
1997 Rare (Walter and Gillett 1998)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Endemic to South Korea where it is found in the Provinces of: Jeju Island (Mt Halla); Joelanum (Deok-yu-san (Mt Togyu (Deojyu)); Joellabak (Mt. Chiri (Jiri); Gyeongsangnam (Mt Gaya). The actual AOO has been calculated to be ca 12 km2(Kim et al. 2000).
Countries:
Native:
Korea, Republic of
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The subpopulation on Mt Halla (Jeju Island) is today a remnant of a once much greater distribution, much of which was destroyed ca 100 years ago.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Occurs in sub-alpine areas on shallow mountain soils poor in humus content. Its elevational range is between 1,000 m and 1,900 m asl. The climate is cool temperate, with a summer monsoon bringing the annual precipitation above 1,600 mm. Abies koreana grows in pure stands or mixed with Betula ermanii, Taxus cuspidata, Prunus maximowiczii, P. sargentii, Cornus kousa with an understory of Sasa quelpartensis on Cheju Island. On the mainland it is also mixed with Picea jezoensis, Pinus koraiensis, P. densiflora, Taxus cuspidata, Quercus mongolica var. mandshurica, Cornus controversa, Acer spp. Fraxinus sieboldiana, Magnolia sieboldii, Sorbus commixta, and several genera of low shrubs, e.g. Juniperus, Deutzia, Ribes and Rhododendron. The forest is usually open and essentially dominated by conifers, with A. koreana a minor component.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The Korean Fir is a small to medium sized tree that grows slowly and together with its rarity these qualities make it unsuitable as a timber tree. Because of its small stature and compact growth it has been widely used as an ornamental tree, particularly for small gardens.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Abies koreana is facing critical population declines (Kim et al. 1998). Regional decline of A. koreana was first recognized in 1980s (Woo 2009). The continuing decline in the AOO is as a result of trees suffering from die-back and eventual death and is likely as a result of climate change. For example, on Mt Togyu the rate of dead trees sampled was 18.18% (Kim and Choo 2000) while on Mt Halla it amounts to 6.44% (Kim et al. 2007). It is thought that the dieback is most probably the results of complex interactions between multiple environmental factors caused by global warming (Woo 2009).  Abies koreana is also in decline due to vigorous competition from the bamboo Sasa quelpaertensis and invading pine trees on Mt Halla (C.-S. Kim pers. obs.). Studies suggest that damage by the fungal pathogen Racodium therryanum may be a significant inhibitory factor for the natural regeneration of A. koreana on Mt Halla (Cho et al. 2005, 2007). Twenty years ago between 30%-40% of the subpopulation in Deok-yu (10% of the National Park) was destroyed due to the development of a Ski resort.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is afforded protection in all its locations, however even with protection 10% of the Togyu (Deok-yu) National Park was destroyed during the development of a ski resort. To reverse the decline of this species and preserve the genetic diversity, it is necessary to increase natural regeneration from seeds; for this to happen there needs to be an understanding of the factors that affect seed germination and initial seedling survival (Cho 2007). More research is needed into the effects of global warming; temperature and water relation seem to be of great significance in Korean Fir dieback, but little is known about this relationship and the direct effects on A. koreana (Woo 2009).

Citation: Kim, Y.-S., Chang, C.-S., Kim, C.-S. & Gardner, M. 2011. Abies koreana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 20 November 2014.
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