Biodiv Sci ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (10): 22505.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2022505

• Reviews • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Theoretical and practical research on conservation of Wild Plants with Extremely Small Populations in China

Yue Xu1,2, Runguo Zang1,2,*()   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Biodiversity Conservation of National Forestry and Grassland Administration, Ecology and Nature Conservation Institute, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091
    2. Co-Innovation Center for Sustainable Forestry in Southern China, Nanjing Forestry University, Nanjing 210037
  • Received:2022-09-02 Accepted:2022-10-13 Online:2022-10-20 Published:2022-10-14
  • Contact: Runguo Zang


Aims: Wild Plants with Extremely Small Populations (WPESP) are plant species with high risk of extinction that are in urgent need of conservation. This concept has become a hotspot of biodiversity conservation in China since it was first proposed. In 2010, China officially launched the Implementation Plan of Rescuing and Conserving China’s WPESP (2011-2015), which initiated conservation research efforts and achieved successful progress.
Methods: We conducted a topic search on Web of Science and on China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) with “extremely small population*” and “plant” as the search terms. We reviewed the research results and achievements from academic papers, dissertations, and conference papers in order to evaluate the conservation of WPESP in China.
Results: WPESP research provides an important theoretical basis to guide conservation practice. We systematically reviewed research on the conservation of WPESP in recent years from six aspects: (1) the survey and monitoring of population, community and habitat, (2) adaptation, (3) genetic diversity, (4) reproductive biology, (5) endangered mechanisms, and (6) dynamic models. In this paper, we reviewed WPESP conservation progress from five aspects: (1) in situ conservation, (2) ex situ conservation and germplasm conservation, (3) reintroduction, (4) artificial propagation, and (5) technical regulation system construction. We also proposed several priorities for future conservation research.
Conclusions: Based on current theoretical and practical research, we propose five priorities for future conservation research of WPESP in China. We suggest that the conservation list should be adjusted and improved periodically. Researchers should highlight the observation and prediction of population structure, reinforce research on the formation and recovery mechanisms of small populations and conduct long-term systematic studies of specific species. The WPESP concept should be promoted at international levels to increase its influence. We hope this review may provide a reference for national biodiversity protection and ecological civilization construction.

Key words: Wild Plants with Extremely Small Populations, theoretical research, conservation practice, progress, deficiency