Myrcianthes ferreyrae 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Myrtales Myrtaceae

Scientific Name: Myrcianthes ferreyrae
Species Authority: (McVaugh) McVaugh
Common Name(s):
Spanish Arrayan, Arrayan de lomas
Eugenia ferreyrae McVaugh
Taxonomic Source(s): The Plant List. 2013. The Plant List Version 1.1. Available at: (Accessed: July 2016).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered A3cd+4acd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2014-04-28
Assessor(s): Gonzales, F.
Reviewer(s): Rivers, M.C.
This species is assessed as Critically Endangered (CR) as the population is predicted to decline by 90 to 100% in the next 75 to 90 years (three generation lengths), which may result in the extinction of the species. The population reduction is ongoing and the threats to the species, primarily logging and overgrazing, have not ceased, leading to reductions in the area of occupancy, extent of occurrence and quality of habitat. This species has a severely fragmented distribution formed by small patches of forest, all of which suffer from strong anthropogenic pressure, in the form of logging and overgrazing by cattle, and currently the most isolated subpopulations are being cleared for firewood because informal mining is increasing in the area. Competition and parasites are also having negative effects on the species. The leaves of these trees are infested by a queresa and there are some pests that are destroying plant tissue. It is possible that this species competes for resources with tara Caesalpinae spinosa, which is common in the hills and dominant in one of the areas of distribution of the arrayan, Lomas de Atiquipa. Here they are reforesting vast hectares with this species, which has an economic value from the sale of its fruits by local residents. This is changing the ecosystem of the lomas where the arrayan is currently distributed. In addition there is a low percentage of natural regeneration which prevents the perpetuation of the species. Some authors claim that the tree hills dominated by Myrcianthes ferreyrae have been reduced by 90% in the past. However, these tree hills are not monospecific but are formed by a complex of tree species and therefore there is some uncertainty in this value. Talavera et al. 2006 states that high mortality of arrayan occurred after the ENSO of 1972, which led to a drastic population reduction leaving only a small numbers of trees. Before the ENSO of 1972 the species was found in a continuous patch, whereas now only remnant forest patches remain.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Myrcianthes ferreyrae, known as arrayan, is a paleoendemic species, an evergreen perennial tree and a fog specialist. It is only registered in the southern coastal hills of Arequipa city, Peru, in the ecological regions of tropical dry desert at 400-1,532 m asl (Gonzales 2013). It forms small forests on the tops of slopes with hill vegetation (Kawasaki and Holst 2006). Myrcianthes ferreyrae also grows along with other species of plants, which commonly include Caesalpinea spinosa (Galan de Mera et al. 2009), Vasconcellea candicans "mito", Citharexylum flexuosum "chamo cruz" and Duranta armata "chamo" (Mancilla 2010). The arrayan is distributed in the hills of Atiquipa Taimara, Chala Viejo, Chaparra and El  Cali in the province of Caravelí. McVaugh (1958) notes that this species was collected in the hills of Chaparra (the type locality), southeast of the port of Chala, on the road to Chaparra, and in the Camana Province south of Chala. Kawasaki and Holst (2006) state that this species has two subpopulations and is naturally fragmented, but does not mention the name of the localities. Rundel et al. (1991) indicate that this species grows on the slopes of Chaparra. There is no more information about the ancient distribution of the species.

The extent of occurrence (EOO) is c. 170 km2 and the area of occupancy (AOO) is 24 km2, calculated using GeoCAT (Bachman et al. 2011). However, the actual area of occupied habitat is much lower at c. 0.15 km2.
Countries occurrence:
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:24Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:170
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):Yes
Number of Locations:6
Lower elevation limit (metres):400
Upper elevation limit (metres):1532
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Gonzales (2013) assessed the population density of the species in the hills of the province of Caravelí and reported that the arrayan had a population of 586 individuals in the hills of Taimara, Atiquipa and Chala Viejo, with an average density of 39.70 trees per hectare in the total area evaluated. The assessor believes that a large percentage of these individuals are able to reproduce in favourable environmental conditions (ground water resources limit the bloom) and are mature individuals, although some are old and dried. However, these patches are not thought to be viable in the future due to geographical isolation, the limitation of water resources and decreasing vegetation cover leading to increasing loss of soil moisture. This species is severely fragmented. The town that presents a greater density of individuals is the hills of Taimara with 470 trees in an area of c. 10 ha. The Chala Viejo hills have a lower density with only 50 trees in an area of 2.44 ha. This study is a more accurate representation of the population as others assessed only one small subpopulation. For example, Vizcarra (2004) found a density of 2.698 trees per hectare in the forest of the lomas de Atiquipa, but did not take into account that this is area is made up of patches of forest and not a continuous unit. Previously CIZA,ONERN,SENAMHI (1989) reported that this species had a density of 86 trees per hectare in the Taimara hills and Rundel et al. (1991) states that there are few hundred individuals of arrayan in the lomas de Chaparra. Myrcianthes ferreyrae is listed in the official classification of endangered species of wild flora protected by Peruvian legislation (D.S. N°. 043-2006-AG) as Critically Endangered.

The arrayan is distributed in six localities, three of which are Atiquipa, Taimara and Chala Viejo. These three localities form six subpopulations as in Atiquipa the arrayan is distributed in three separate patches. There is natural regeneration in five subpopulations (three in Atiquipa, one in Taimara and one in Chala Viejo) with 54 individuals found undergoing natural regeneration. The natural regeneration was measured by evidence from seedlings and saplings (Gonzales 2013).

Rostworowski (1981) in their work on natural resources in the 16th and 17th centuries mentions complaints from the residents of Arequipa in 1562 about the damage caused by cattle grazing in Atiquipa. Furthermore, Suasnabar (2004) mentions that in the 1950s and 1960s the people of the hills began to notice that the forest "myrtle" was dying. They mention that there were "hot showers", which were possibly the product of El Niño ENSO in 1973. In conclusion, the introduction of cattle and goats and resulting in overgrazing, deforestation and consequently the poor regeneration of grasses and limited forest resources have led to the collapse of the coastal hills of Atiquipa. The coastal hills in the Lomas de Atiquipa once covered an estimated 45,000 ha comprising forest formations, scrub and grassland, with an additional 2,600 ha of agricultural land. It is estimated that the have been reduced have been reduced by 90% (now 1,500 ha) and the grassy hills by 75% (now 8,000 ha). Ferreyra (1953) states that in a few places the vegetation of the hills once came down to the sea, in Atiquipa, Penthouse and Chala.

This decline is continuing and it is predicted that the population will decline by 90% to 100% in the next 80 years, leading to the extinction of the species. This prediction is based on increased levels of exploitation of the species for firewood. Additionally, overgrazing by cattle, as well as increasing urbanisation of the area and illegal mining, will threaten the species.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:580Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:UnknownPopulation severely fragmented:Yes
No. of subpopulations:6

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is distributed in ecological region of tropical dry desert (DST) at 500-900 m asl (Kawasaki and Holst 2006, Gonzales 2013). This species is of unusual interest as it comes from an arid area of southern cis-Andean Peru, where no other native species of Myrtaceae is known to occur (Mc Vaugh 1958).

This species occurs on tree hills (lomas arboreas) that are the result of a discontinuous natural phenomenon typical of the desert coast of Peru and Chile. The vegetation of the hills is developed on the slopes facing the sea, favouring condensation of mists brought by the wind blowing from the south and southwest. These slopes can start at sea level and reach 1,000 m asl. Several authors have classified hills based on vegetation (e.g. Brack and Mendiola 2000) and this distinguishes four types of lomas, including lomas arboreas. The Atiquipa hills are formed by several species of trees including Myrcianthes ferreyrae, Caesalpinea spinosa, Acacia macracantha, Carica candicans and Mimosa species.

Gonzales (2013) indicates that the isolation of patches where this species is distributed will decrease the viability of the species in the future. Pollination by wind is unlikely in this genus (Lughadha and Proença 1996). Despite not having data on pollination, there are references suggesting that there is a strong association between the Myrtaceas and the Colletidae (Hymenoptera), which are thought to be bees that visit more primitive flowers (Michener 1976, in Nic Lughadha and Proença 1996). There are no studies on pollination in the lomas de Caravelí but we know of the existence of pollinators, mainly bees, in the lomas de Atiquipa (Y. Turpo pers. comm. 2012). It is possible that these pollinators could also be associated with M. ferreyrae. In relation to the dispersion of seeds, Gonzales (2013) states that this occurs mainly by seed rain and the species may possibly also have some dispersing agents, mainly birds. There is a record that some flycatchers take advantage of the fruit of the Myrtaceas. Therefore, it is possible that some species of Flycatcher reported for Atiquipa (Zeballos et al. 2000) are also playing a role in dispersal of seeds of M. ferreyra. However, this would not ensure the propagation of this species as it has recalcitrant seeds, which are characterized by their sensitivity to dehydration and a rapid loss of viability upon dissemination (Magnitski and Plaza 2007).

This species grows to a height of 3.9 to 5.9 m. However, the botanical description of McVaugh (1958) stated that these trees had an average height of six to eight metres and could reach up to 10 m. This species provides ecosystem services and is important in the coastal hills ecosystem. It captures moisture mist (fog sensor) and thus helps to maintain the soil moisture, which is an important feature for the desert ecosystem where it is distributed.

Alvarez (2014) conducted a study between September 2012 and August 2013 on Myrcianthes ferreyrae phenology in the Atiquipa hills. Alvarez found that the flowering of the species is synchronous, occurs from late December to late February and is characterized by a sustained bloom "steady-state" with few flowers open during the day. Once pollinated the fruit goes through a phase of dormancy for a few months to begin growth and maturation occurs in the months of July and August. Fruiting occurs between the months of July to October. Seed dispersal occurred in spring.

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):25-30

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There is no trade in the species. However, in the past the wood of this species was heavily used by villagers for firewood and as a material for construction of housing. Also in the past, the fruits were picked from the tree and used to prepare jams.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Historically this species was threatened by the long term exploitation of the natural resources of the coastal hills and this has taken a toll with the disappearance of large areas of hills (Pefaur et al. 1982). Overgrazing by cattle, goats and horses is also a major threat, which impedes the reproduction of vegetative cover. Use of the hills is seasonal. There are clearly distinguishable dry and wet seasons in the coastal hills; in the wet season (winter) the relative humidity is above 80% resulting in precipitation in the form of “garua” and allowing further development of vegetation. At this time villagers take their livestock, mainly sheep and goats, to the hills. However, there is evidence of cattle throughout the year. Additionally, the indiscriminate felling of trees placed the species in danger of extinction and condemns the hills to desertification; this is already seen in large areas, which now only have traces of their previous natural condition (Caziani 1997). Gonzales (2013) indicates that the main threats facing the species are habitat fragmentation (limiting genetic exchange) and the introduction of non-native species (goats and cattle) that stop natural regeneration. This is a limiting factor for the establishment of the species. The modification of natural systems, due to construction of dams, limits the resource primarily for trees in the hills of Taimara. The population has a distribution in the form of a "campaign" that is characteristic of species with problems of regeneration. It is also possibly an aging population as most of the trees have a dried and not vigorous appearance, with structural problems. Also some trees have damage to the trunk and the branches, mainly presented by logging, and also present infestation by epiphytes (mainly Usnea species). In some cases excess water in the wet season causes the flowers to wither and rot.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Recently conservation action was taken through a project aiming to reforest the hills of Atiquipa with Caesalpinea spinosa and Myrcianthes ferreyrae. Arrayan was planted in smaller proportions but over time almost all of the plants of the species died. Additionally, to protect the species, fences around the patches of arrayan were installed to protect them from the herbivores. These were installed in the hills of Atiquipa, but were only partly successful as animals still managed to enter despite the existence of the fences. It is important to note that conservation actions for the species have only been made in a small area of the distribution of the species in hills of Atiquipa. There are no conservation measures in place in other areas. Less than 15% of the population is protected in the private conservation area of ACP-Lomas of Atiquipa (Gonzales 2013).

It is recommended to take the following conservation actions for Myrcianthes ferreyrae. It is necessary to make a more detailed study of the species; first to perform genetic studies to determine if the population is suffering from genetic drift, secondly to determine the reasons for the lack of recruitment of the species, and finally to determine how the different regimes of rain (mist) can affect the emergence of seeds. This would allow the capacity of recruitment in different scenarios of climate change to be predicted. Ex situ conservation measures should also be taken and protocols for the production of plants from which reforestation activities could be undertaken should be established.

Citation: Gonzales, F. 2014. Myrcianthes ferreyrae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T60492231A60492909. . Downloaded on 23 May 2017.
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