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Article

Inferring the Potential Geographic Distribution and Reasons for the Endangered Status of the Tree Fern, Sphaeropteris lepifera, in Lingnan, China Using a Small Sample Size

1
Key Laboratory of Plant Resources Conservation and Sustainable Utilization, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Applied Botany, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650, China
2
College of Life Sciences, Anhui Normal University, Wuhu 241000, China
3
Nan’ao County Lantian Gardens Virescence Co., Ltd., Shantou 515900, China
4
Houzhai Town People’s Government of Nan’ao County, Shantou 515910, China
5
Guangxi Forestry Research Institute, Nanning 530002, China
6
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Equal contribution.
Academic Editors: Rosario Paolo Mauro, Carlo Nicoletto and Leo Sabatino
Horticulturae 2021, 7(11), 496; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae7110496
Received: 20 September 2021 / Revised: 5 November 2021 / Accepted: 10 November 2021 / Published: 15 November 2021
In this study, we investigated suitable habitats for the endangered tree fern, Sphaeropteris lepifera (J. Sm. ex Hook.) R.M. Tryon, based on fieldwork, ecological niche modeling, and regression approaches. We combined these data with the characterization of spore germination and gametophytic development in the laboratory to assess the reasons why S. lepifera is endangered and to propose a conservation strategy that focuses on suitable sites for reintroduction and accounts for the ecology and biphasic life cycle of the species. Our methods represent an integration of process- and correlation-based approaches to understanding the distributional patterns of this species, and this combined approach, while uncommonly applied, is a more robust strategy than either approach used in isolation. Our ecological niche models indicated that cold temperature extremes, temperature stability over long- and short-terms, and the seasonality of precipitation were among the most important abiotic environmental factors affecting the distribution of S. lepifera among the variables that we measured. Moreover, distribution of this fern species is also strongly influenced by the timing of development of male and female gametes. Additionally, we observed that slope aspect, specifically south-facing slopes, facilitates more incoming sunlight for mature trees, and simultaneously, provides greater, much-needed shade for fiddleheads on account of the canopy being denser. We believe that our study can provide important guidance on the restoration of S. lepifera in the wild. Specifically, potential restoration areas can be screened for the specific environmental factors that we infer to have a critical impact on the survival of the species. View Full-Text
Keywords: MaxEnt; ecological niche modeling (ENM); endangered species; Cyatheaceae; environmental factors MaxEnt; ecological niche modeling (ENM); endangered species; Cyatheaceae; environmental factors
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MDPI and ACS Style

Wei, X.; Harris, A.; Cui, Y.; Dai, Y.; Hu, H.; Yu, X.; Jiang, R.; Wang, F. Inferring the Potential Geographic Distribution and Reasons for the Endangered Status of the Tree Fern, Sphaeropteris lepifera, in Lingnan, China Using a Small Sample Size. Horticulturae 2021, 7, 496. https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae7110496

AMA Style

Wei X, Harris A, Cui Y, Dai Y, Hu H, Yu X, Jiang R, Wang F. Inferring the Potential Geographic Distribution and Reasons for the Endangered Status of the Tree Fern, Sphaeropteris lepifera, in Lingnan, China Using a Small Sample Size. Horticulturae. 2021; 7(11):496. https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae7110496

Chicago/Turabian Style

Wei, Xueying, AJ Harris, Yuwen Cui, Yangwu Dai, Hanjia Hu, Xiaoling Yu, Rihong Jiang, and Faguo Wang. 2021. "Inferring the Potential Geographic Distribution and Reasons for the Endangered Status of the Tree Fern, Sphaeropteris lepifera, in Lingnan, China Using a Small Sample Size" Horticulturae 7, no. 11: 496. https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae7110496

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