Cordia rupicola


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Cordia rupicola
Species Authority: Urban
Taxonomic Notes: Synonym = Varronia rupicola (Urban) Britton.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B1ab(ii,iii,v)+2ab(ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2003
Date Assessed: 2003-04-30
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Clubbe, C. & Pollard, B. (RBG, Kew), Smith-Abbott, J., Walker, R. & Woodfield, N. (BVI National Parks Trust)
Reviewer(s): Maunder, M. & Strahm, W. (SSC Plant Conservation Committee)
Cordia rupicola is a small woody shrub, originally described as endemic to Puerto Rico (Britton and Wilson 1925). It was known from small subpopulations in Puerto Rico (three sites in the dry southwestern Guárnica region of PR) and Anegada and listed as Endangered in 1997 Red List (Walter and Gillett 1998). The Puerto Rico subpopulations could not be relocated in 1992 and it is thought to be extirpated on Puerto Rico (Kraus 1999, pers. comm.). We have treated the Anegada subpopulation as the total remaining global distribution. The area of Anegada is 38 km², of which approximately one third is water in the form of salt ponds. Therefore the extent of occurrence for Cordia rupicola is approx. 25 km². Fieldwork has determined that C. rupicola is found only in the western half of the island where it is locally abundant on both limestone and within the sand dune system, showing a slight preference for limestone. Its area of occupancy has been estimated as < 5 km². Because of the small size of the island and the known distribution of this species we have treated this as one location. The island of Anegada is under extreme pressure for residential and tourism development. This has already resulted in documented habitat fragmentation and loss leading to a decline in the quality of the habitat for this species. All the available information indicates that this will accelerate in the next few years. This will result in a continued decline in the area of occupancy, quality of the habitat and a reduction in the number of mature individuals.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Anegada, British Virgin Islands. Extent of occurrence: 25 km², area of occupancy: <5 km². Extirpated in Guánica, Puerto Rico. Population size unknown, but field observations indicate it to be locally common on the western half of the island. Fieldwork has not located it in the eastern half of the island (east of the airport and the Settlement), despite the occurrence of apparently suitable habitat.
Virgin Islands, British
Regionally extinct:
Puerto Rico
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Fieldwork indicates a preference for limestone substrates and it occurred in 69% of plots in open limestone pavement and 60% of plots in the limestone cays. Fairly widespread also in sand dune habitats where it was found in 25% of plots (based on 104, 20x20 m plots assessed). No study of breeding biology undertaken, but this species appears to flower and set fruit regularly and in abundance.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Anegada is under severe development pressure resulting in both loss of habitat to residential and tourism infrastructure, and further fragmentation due to upgrading and construction of new roads. Loose livestock (cattle, goats, donkeys) roam the island and impact at the habitat (trampling) and species level (grazing). Invasive species may be a problem with increasing habitat fragmentation. The Settlement (Anegada’s only town) has lots of known invasives, three of which have been observed moving into natural habitats – Casuarina equisetifolia (also found along several western dunes), Cryptostegia madagascariensis and Bryophyllum pinnatum. Fire may be a problem in the future – increasing use of fire to clear land. Highest point of Anegada is approx. 10 m above sea level. Most of the preferred habitat is <3 m above sea level and so global climate change will reduce quality and area of habitat available to C. rupicola. Natural disasters are a current and on-going threat e.g., hurricanes, coastal inundation and earthquakes.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: A small proportion of the preferred habitat (limestone) lies within a Ramsar site (declared 1999) and national legislation is currently being prepared to declare this a Protected Area. Protected Wildlife legislation is currently being revised and consideration being given to including named endemic/ threatened species of flora and fauna within this Schedule.

Bibliography [top]

Acevedo-Rodríguez, P. and Collaborators 1996. Flora of Saint John, US Virgin Islands. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden 78: 1-581.

Anonymous. 1992. Report on the rare plants of Puerto Rico. Center for Plant Conservation, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri.

Britton, N.L. 1916 The Vegetation of Anegada. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden 6: 565-580.

Britton, N.L. and Wilson, P. 1923-1926. Botany of Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Scientific Survey of Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands. New York Academy of Science, New York.

D’Arcy, W.G. 1971 The Island of Anegada and its Flora. Atoll Research bulletin 139: 1-21.

D’Arcy, W.G. 1973 Anegada Island: Vegetation and Flora. Contribution Number 5 from Fairleigh Dickinson University West Indies Laboratory, St Croix, USVI. 39pp.

Dressler, W. (ed.) 2000. A Parks and Protected Area System Plan for the British Virgin Islands. BVI National Parks Trust and Eastern Caribbean Natural Area Management Program. 181pp.

IUCN. 2003. 2003 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 18 November 2003.

Little, E.L. and Woodbury, R.O. 1980. Rare and Endemic Trees of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. USDA Forest Service Conservation Research report No. 27, 20pp.

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

Schomburgk, R.H. 1832. Remarks on Anegada. Journal of the Royal Geographical Society II: 152-170.

Smith-Abbott, J., Walker, R. and Clubbe, C. 2002. Integrating National Parks, Education and Community Development (British Virgin Islands). Final Report to the UK Darwin Initiative for the Survival of Species. 30pp.

Walter, K.S. and Gillett, H.J. (eds). 1998. 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants. Compiled by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. IUCN - The World Conservation Union, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Citation: Clubbe, C. & Pollard, B. (RBG, Kew), Smith-Abbott, J., Walker, R. & Woodfield, N. (BVI National Parks Trust) 2003. Cordia rupicola. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 03 September 2015.
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