Juniperus bermudiana

Status_ne_offStatus_dd_offStatus_lc_offStatus_nt_offStatus_vu_offStatus_en_offStatus_cr_onStatus_ew_offStatus_ex_off

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
PLANTAE TRACHEOPHYTA PINOPSIDA PINALES CUPRESSACEAE

Scientific Name: Juniperus bermudiana
Species Authority: L.
Common Name(s):
English Bermuda Cedar, Bermuda Red Cedar, Bermuda Juniper, Southern Red Cedar

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered A2ace ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2010-08-05
Assessor(s): Wingate, D.B., Adams, R & Gardner, M.
Reviewer(s): Thomas, P. & Farjon, A.
Justification:
Juniperus bermudiana underwent a catastrophic decline of almost 95% between 1946 and 1956. Over the last 30 years, the population has started to recover as a result of natural resistance in part of the remnant population and intensive conservation efforts. Invasive plant species still pose a significant threat. Juniperus bermudiana has an estimated generation length of 25 years so three generations is the equivalent of 75 years. Some of the causes of reduction are not reversible due to urbanization and habitat loss. This species is therefore currently listed as Critically Endangered. Provided that the recovery is maintained, future re-assessments after the three generation period has expired should result in downlisting.
History:
1998 Critically Endangered (Oldfield et al. 1998)
1998 Critically Endangered
1997 Endangered (Walter and Gillett 1998)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Juniperus bermudiana occurs throughout Bermuda so the total area of the island is the equivalent of its extent of occurrence (EOO): 57 km².
Countries:
Native:
Bermuda
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: In a ten year period between 1946 and 1956, almost 95% of the natural population was lost due to the effects of an introduced juniper scale (Carulaspis minima). Over the last 30 years a combination of residual resistance, reafforestation and, to a lesser extent, natural regeneration has led to an increase. The current population is estimated to be well over 10,000 adult trees, possibly as high as 25,000, which represents approximately 10% of its former population density in suitable habitat.
Population Trend: Increasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Grows in shallow, calcareous soils on hillsides and along marshes and coastlines. Once formed almost pure stands with an estimated density of as much as 500 trees to the acre (Groves 1955). Fruits ripen in September and October (Britton 1918). Germination rates are good where the habitat allows, taking into account the vastly reduced adult population. The main seed disseminator seems to be the Starling, Sturnus vulgaris, which became naturalized in the 1950s, increased explosively in the 1960s, and is highly mobile. Natural self seeding occurs mainly in unmanaged coastal scrubland and exposed hilltops where the otherwise dominant invasive flora is sufficiently stunted or sparse due to wind and salt spray exposure to allow germination and juvenile growth of junipers to occur. In such areas a new forest cover is gradually developing where the juniper is the dominant emergent tree. It is estimated that the natural pre-disturbance generation length is 25 years - this is based on the length of time taken for a naturally regenerating stand of trees to reach harvestable age.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Historically it was extensively used for building houses and up until about 1900 it sustained a thriving ship building industry. It was also used in furniture making, coffins, fence posts and for smaller objects such as paper cutters, boxes and rulers. As a pioneer tree of newly cleared lands, with few competitors prior to the mid 20th century, the juniper thrived on man's regular clearing of the land and quickly became a virtual monoculture forest after the initial clearing of the more diverse pre-colonial forest (Britton 1918, Rueger and von Wallmenich 1996). The timber was also exported. Today it is not widely utilised except as an ornamental tree. The dead cedars are still harvested for timber and have a very high timber value as Bermuda cedar is perceived locally to be far superior to imported Virginia cedar and because the timber is now essentially a non-renewable resource. As a result there is even a black market for dead timber harvested from or stolen from private and public lands. Living trees are generally respected and left alone.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

From the time that Bermuda was first colonized in 1609 Juniperus bermudiana has been used extensively for construction purposes and as fuel for cooking. The use was so extensive that by 1622 special legislation had to be introduced (Tucker 1970) to control the export of the island’s most dominant tree species. Between 1693 and 1878, the Bermuda legislature passed sixteen further acts in order to restrict the uses of the juniper. Despite these Acts, the ship-building industry eventually denuded much of Bermuda's landscape by the 1830s. The decline of the ship building industry after 1900, combined with the replacement of  local juniper timber for construction with cheaper imported timber from the U.S. and rural electrification, which precluded the need for wood as  cooking fuel, enabled a full recovery by the early 1940s. However, it was once more devastated as a result of the accidental introduction of two coccoid scale insects in 1946 (Challinor and Wingate 1971).

The juniper scale (Carulaspis visci) and the oyster-shell scale (Lepidoscaphes newsteadi) were present on ornamental species of juniper which were shipped to the island from California, USA (Bennet and Hughes 1959). In the absence of natural biological controls and genetic traits for resistance the native J. bermudiana suffered rapid defoliation and death, reducing the population by 95% within a period of 10 years (Wingate 2001)

During the following decades the bare landscape was reafforested using exotic species. Casuarina equisetifolia was especially favoured for its rapid growth. Invasive broadleaf plant competitors (which create too deep a shade for seed germination or growth), are now by far the greatest factors limiting the junipers distribution and self-seeding potential. Likewise, germination of the naturalized Ficus retusa in rot hollows of old junipers (which leads to eventual overshading and strangulation) and overshading by taller growing invasive broadleaved trees, especially in sheltered valley situations, is now the major cause of adult mortality.

To add to the problems, J. virginiana and J. virginaina var. silicicola have been introduced to Bermuda from Florida, USA. Both taxa are resistant to the scale insects. They readily hybridize with J. bermudiana causing a depletion of the germplasm through hybridization and introgression (Adams and Wingate 2008) .

Urbanization is also a problem. Today Bermuda is recognized as one of the most densely populated isolated oceanic islands in the world with a mean human population density of five per acre and one third of the country is totally urban (Wingate 2001). About 20% of Bermuda's land area is now paved over with roads, parking lots, buildings and industrial yards. This trend is likely to continue unabated.

Ironically, the Bermuda juniper does best today in that approximate one third of the landscape that is maintained largely free of invasive plants in parks and gardens with extensive lawn areas. Most old pure strain junipers that survived the great scale epidemic are found in cemeteries, parks and private gardens where it is now very much in vogue again to plant cedars because they are more hurricane resistant.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Although chemical control of the juniper scale was possible, it was avoided for safety reasons due to the high density of the human population. As a result of rapid natural selection of a trait for scale resistance, which must have survived in about 5% of the population, most seedlings now seem to be partly or totally immune to scale attack, and survive. This enabled intensive re-forestation efforts to begin about 1980 and the species has since recovered to approximately 10% of its former population density in managed parkland and garden habitat. (Procter and Fleming 1999, Wingate 2001)

Juniperus bermudiana is cultivated in gardens outside of Bermuda and some of this material has potential to supplement restoration programmes in Bermuda. Perhaps the biggest planting is in St Helena and on Ascension Island where seed was introduced during the mid-19th century to establish timber tree plantations (Adams 2008). Ironically on these islands J. bermudiana is now becoming an invasive problem. Juniperus virginiana has also been introduced on St. Helena so there is the potential for hybridization (Adams 2008).

Bibliography [top]

Adams, R. and Wingate, D. 2008. Hybridization between Juniperus bermudiana and J. virginiana in Bermuda. Phytologia 90(2): 123-133.

Adams, R.P. 2008. Juniperus bermudiana: a species in crisis, should it be rescued from introduced Junipers? Phytologia 90(2): 134-136.

Bennett, F.D. and Hughes, I.W. 1959. Biological control of insect pests in Bermuda. Bulletin of Entomology Research 50: 423-436.

Britton, N. 1918. Flora of Bermuda. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York.

Challinor, D. and Wingate, D. 1971. The struggle for the survivial of the Bermudan cedar. Biological Conservation 3(3): 220-222.

Government of Bermuda. 2003. Protected Species Act 2003.

Groves, G.R. 1955. The Bermuda cedar. Unasylva 9: 4.

Groves, G.R. 1955. The Bermuda cedar. World Crops 7: 1-5.

IUCN. 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2011.2). Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 10 November 2011).

Phillips, B. 1984. Bermuda Cedar: Survival or extinction. Bermuda’s Heritage: 150-151.

Procter, D. and Fleming, L.V. (eds.). 1999. Biodiversity: the UK Overseas Territories. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough.

Rueger, B. and von Wallmenich, T.N. 1996. Human impact on the forests of Bermuda: the decline of endemic cedar and palmetto since 1609, recorded in the Holocene pollen record of Devonshire Marsh. Journal of Paleolimnology 16: 59-66.

Tucker, T. 1970. Orders and constitutions to preserve the cedars and other trees. Bermuda Hist. Quart. 27: 23-25.

Wingate, D. 2001. Strategies for successful biodiversity conservation and restoration on small oceanic islands: some examples from Bermuda. In: (ed. M. Pienkowski) (ed.), Calpe 2000: Linking the Fragments of Paradise - An International Conference on Environmental Conservation in Small Territories, pp. 16-24. John Mackintosh Hall, Gibraltar.

Wingate, D. 2008. Point of view: Conservation of the Bermuda juniper. Phytologia 90(2): 137.


Citation: Wingate, D.B., Adams, R & Gardner, M. 2011. Juniperus bermudiana. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 20 December 2014.
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