World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010

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08-Conservation of the Arabian Dragon Tree Dracaena Serrulata - Poster

· Institution: Prescott College & IUCN

· Organizer: Aishah Ali Abdallah

· Language: English

· Description: The endemic Arabian dragon tree Dracaena serrulata is found in scattered populations in the western and southern escarpments of the Arabian Peninsula from west of Al-Madinah, Saudi Arabia south into Yemen and east into Dhufar. Dracaena serrulata is globally endangered as a result of desertification, overgrazing, overcutting, and climate change. Its relict populations are scattered in isolated mountains that are sometimes hundreds of kilometers apart, and some of the populations are very small, affecting its genetic diversity. Habitat fragmentation makes this problem worse. We do not know its minimum genetically viable population size. We do not know much about its reproductive strategies, such as its pollination and how effectively it can reproduce vegetative and by seed, and how its seeds are dispersed. The tree lives long and its regeneration cycles are not well understood. A conservation strategy for this species will need to include assessment of its current distribution and conservation status, applied ecological and genetic research and long-term monitoring, in-situ conservation through protected areas and habitat restoration, ex-situ propagation and reintroduction, improved legislation and regulations, socio-economic incentives and participation of the local communities, and environmental education and awareness. Such a plan could be implemented at relatively little cost by the relevant conservation agencies in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Oman, in coordination with IUCN Specialist Groups and international partnerships. This spectacular tree could serve as a flagship and umbrella species for conservation of the Somali-Masai and Afromontane centers of endemism, the ecosystems of greatest terrestrial biological diversity in the Arabian Peninsula, and all the plants and animals that live in them.