Pelliciera rhizophorae 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Theales Pellicieraceae

Scientific Name: Pelliciera rhizophorae
Species Authority: Planch. & Triana
Common Name(s):
Spanish Manglar Piñuelo

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B2ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2007-03-22
Assessor(s): Ellison, A., Farnsworth, E. & Moore, G.
Reviewer(s): Polidoro, B.A., Livingstone, S.R. & Carpenter, K.E. (Global Marine Species Assessment Coordinating Team)
This species is recorded from less than ten populations worldwide. All of these are distant from each other, and genetic evidence suggests that minimal gene flow occurs among populations. Area of occupancy is estimated to be between 500 and 2,000 km². The quality of habitat for this rare mangrove species is declining throughout its range, primarily due to coastal development. There has been an estimated 27% decline in mangrove area within this species range since 1980. It is listed as Vulnerable under criterion B.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species has a limited and patchy distribution. It is found in only five small populations on the Caribbean coast of Central and South America, including Nicaragua (Bluefields), Panama (Bocas del Toro, Bahia las Minas) and Colombia (Bahias det Cartagena y Barbacoa). There are also some small patches of this species on the Pacific coasts of Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama and Ecuador (reviews in Jimenez 1984, Fuchs 1970), and southwestern Nicaragua.

The area of occupancy for this species is estimated to be between 500 km and 2,000 km².
Countries occurrence:
Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; Nicaragua; Panama
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – western central; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – southeast
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:500 - 2000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species has a restricted, probably shrinking distribution. On the Caribbean coast of Central and South America, there are only five small relict populations. In a study in the early 1990s in Nicaragua, only a few individuals of P. rhizophorae were recorded in Bluefields (Roth 1991). Reports included ten seedlings, and one sapling in 0.15 ha, but no adults in Bluefields. In Colombia, P. rhizophorae is found in Cartagena Bay on the south side near the river and Barbacoas Bay (10°20'N, 75°30'W and 10°10'N, 75°35'W respectively) (Calderón-Sáenz 1984). In Panama, P. rhizophora is found only in Bahía Las Minas (9º25'N, 79º50'W), where it occurs as isolated individuals within an approximately 1,200 ha stand of mangroves (Duke et al. 1997).

There are also less than ten patchy, relict populations remaining on the Pacific coasts of Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama and Ecuador (reviews in Jimenez 1984, Fuchs 1970). On the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, this species is only found at Tamarindo and Puntarenas, within an estimated distribution of two hectares (Ellison and Farnsworth pers. comm.).

Recent genetic work suggests that populations of Pelliciera are highly differentiated (high variation among populations): Castillo-Cardenas et al. (2005). N. Duke (unpublished, cited in Duke and Watkinson 2002) has reported albino propagules of P. rhizophorae, a phenomenon often associated with pollution and leading to low viability.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The population biology of this species has not been studied in great detail. Populations are generally small and restricted to a narrow band of salinity. It is small tree (5-10 m) that grows in muddy substrates with variable amounts of sand and mangrove peat, occasionally with coral fragments. It typically grows in dense groups mainly in protected areas where R. mangle dominates, or in pure stands. Its presence is linked with a supply of fresh water. It is a minor constituent of undisturbed areas but becomes a dense stand in areas where trees were removed if fresh water is available. (Calderón-Sáenz 1984). Pelliciera may be more sensitive to high soil salinities than other Neotropical mangroves. It grows best on wet soils, shallowly inundated at high tides, and on firm, sandy, slightly elevated soils that are located in the interchannel areas. This species is not found in soil salinities higher than 37 ppt (Winograd 1983, Jimenez 1984).

Pelliciera provides the primary habitat for the mangrove hummingbird (Amazonina boucardi), which is listed as Endangered (EN) on the Red List of Threatened Species.
Systems:Terrestrial; Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Unknown.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Although local estimates are uncertain due to differing legislative definitions of what is a 'mangrove' and to the imprecision in determining mangrove area, current consensus estimates of mangrove loss in the last quarter-century report an approximately 27% decline in mangrove areas in countries within this species range since 1980 (FAO 2007). Due to the fragmented nature of the distribution and small population size, Pelliciera is at particular risk from stochastic events. For example, the Nicaraguan population was impacted by a severe hurricane in the late 1980s (Roth 1992).

All mangrove ecosystems occur within mean sea level and high tidal elevations, and have distinct species zonations that are controlled by the elevation of the substrate relative to mean sea level. This is because of associated variation in frequency of elevation, salinity and wave action (Duke et al. 1998). With rise in sea-level, the habitat requirements of each species will be disrupted, and species zones will suffer mortality at their present locations and re-establish at higher elevations in areas that were previously landward zones (Ellison 2005). If sea-level rise is a continued trend over this century, then there will be continued mortality and re-establishment of species zones. However, species that are easily dispersed and fast growing/fast producing will cope better than those which are slower growing and slower to reproduce.

In addition, mangrove area is declining globally due to a number of localized threats. The main threat is habitat destruction and removal of mangrove areas. Reasons for removal include cleared for shrimp farms, agriculture, fish ponds, rice production and salt pans, and for the development of urban and industrial areas, road construction, coconut plantations, ports, airports, and tourist resorts. Other threats include pollution from sewage effluents, solid wastes, siltation, oil, and agricultural and urban runoff. Climate change is also thought to be a threat, particularly at the edges of a species range. Natural threats include cyclones, hurricane and tsunamis.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Pelliciera was listed as Vulnerable in the 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants, but it was not evaluated for inclusion in the 1998 IUCN Red List of Threatened Trees. The majority of Pelliciera populations are not found in protected areas, one exception is the presence of this species on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica inside Tamarindo and Puntarenas National Parks.

Recommended research for this species would be to search for additional populations on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Central America. Continued monitoring and research is recommended, as well as the inclusion of mangrove areas in marine and coastal protected areas.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.7. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Mangrove Vegetation Above High Tide Level
12. Marine Intertidal -> 12.7. Marine Intertidal - Mangrove Submerged Roots
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
5. Law & policy -> 5.1. Legislation -> 5.1.4. Scale unspecified
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.1. International level
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.2. National level
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.3. Sub-national level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.1. Habitat shifting & alteration
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.3. Agro-industry farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.4. Marine & freshwater aquaculture -> 2.4.3. Scale Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.5. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Adonizio, A.L., Downum, K., Bennett, B.C. and Mathee, K. 2006. Anti-quorum sensing activity of medicinal plants in southern Florida. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 105(3): 427-435.

Calderon-Saenz, E. 1984. Occurrence of the mangrove, Pelliciera rhizophorae, on the Caribbean coast of Colombia with biogeographical notes. Bulletin of Marine Science 35(1): 105-110.

Castillo-Cardenás, M.F., Toro-Perea, N. and Cardenás-Henao, H. 2005. Population genetic structure of neotropical mangrove species on the Colombian Pacific Coast: Pelliciera rhizophorae (Pellicieraceae). Biotropica 37: 266-273.

Duke, N.C. and Watkinson, A.J. 2002. Chlorophyll-deficient propagules of Avicennia marina and apparent longer term deterioration of mangrove fitness in oil-polluted sediments. Marine Pollution Bulletin 44: 1269-1276.

Duke, N. C., Ball, M.C. and Ellison, J.C. 1998. Factors influencing biodiversity and distributional gradients in mangroves. Global Ecology and Biogeography Letters 7: 27-47.

Duke, N.C., Pinzon, Z.S. and Prada, M.C.T. 1997. Large-scale damage to mangrove forests following two large oil spills in Panama. Biotropica 29(1): 2-14.

Ellison, A.M. and Farnsworth, E.J. 1996. Anthropogenic Disturbance of Caribbean Mangrove Ecosystems: Past Impacts, Present Trends, and Future Predictions. Biotropica 28(4): 549-565.

Ellison, J.C. 2005. Holocene palynology and sea-level change in two estuaries in Southern Irian Jaya. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 220: 291-309.

FAO. 2007. The World's Mangroves 1980-2005. FAO Forestry Paper 153. Forestry Department, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome.

Fuchs, H.P. 1970. Ecological and palynological notes on Pelliciera rhizophorae. Acta Botanica Neerlandica 19: 884-894.

Guzmán, H.M. and Guevara, C.A. 1998. Arrecfies coralinos de Bocas del Toro, Panamá: I. Distribución, estructura y estado de conservación de los arrecifes continentales de la Laguna de Chiriqui y la Bahía Almirante. Revista de Biología Tropical 46: 601-623.

IUCN. 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2010.2). Available at: (Accessed: 29 June 2010).

Jimenez, J.A. 1984. A hypothesis to explain the reduced distribution of the mangrove Pelliciera rhizophorae Tr. & Pl. Biotropica 16(4): 304-308.

Lacerda, L.D. 2002. Mangrove Ecosystems: Function and Management. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Germany.

McCoy, E.D., Mushinsky, H.R., Johnson, D. and Meshaka, W.E. 1996. Mangrove damage cause by Hurricane Andrew on the southwestern coast of Florida. Bulletin of Marine Science 59: 1-8.

Roth, L.C. 1992. Hurricanes and mangrove regeneration: effects of Hurricane Joan, October 1988, on the vegetation of Isla del Venado, Bluefields, Nicaragua. Biotropica 24: 375-384.

Roth, L.C. and Grijalva, A. 1991. New record of the mangrove Pelliciera rhizophorae (Theaceae) on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. Rhodora 93: 183-186.

Saenger, P. 2002. Mangrove ecology, silviculture and conservation. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.

Smith, G.M., Spencer, T., Murray, A.L. and French, J.R. 1998. Assessing seasonal vegetation change in coastal wetlands with airborne remote sensing: an outline methodology. Mangroves and Salt Marshes 2: 15-28.

Southwell, C.R. and Bultman, J.D. 1971. Marine borer resistance of untreated woods over long periods of immersion in tropical waters. Biotropica 3: 81-107.

Suman, D.O. 1994. El Ecosistema de manglar en America Latina y la Cuence del Caribe: Su manejo y conservacion. University of Miami, Florida.

Tomlinson, P.B. 1986. The Botany of Mangroves. Cambridge University Press, New York.

Wilkie, M.L. and Fortuna, S. 2003. Status and trends in mangrove area extent wordwide. FAO Working Paper FRA 63. FAO, Rome, Italy.

Winograd, M. 1983. Observationes sobre el hallazgo de Pelliciera rhizophora (Theaceae) en el Caribe Colombiano. Biotropica 15: 297-298.

Citation: Ellison, A., Farnsworth, E. & Moore, G. 2010. Pelliciera rhizophorae. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T178833A7621318. . Downloaded on 19 January 2017.
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