Global conservation prioritization for the Orchidaceae

Pati Vitt*, Amanda Taylor, Demetra Rakosy, Holger Kreft, Abby Meyer, Patrick Weigelt, Tiffany M. Knight

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Quantitative assessments of endemism, evolutionary distinctiveness and extinction threat underpin global conservation prioritization for well-studied taxa, such as birds, mammals, and amphibians. However, such information is unavailable for most of the world’s taxa. This is the case for the Orchidaceae, a hyperdiverse and cosmopolitan family with incomplete phylogenetic and threat information. To define conservation priorities, we present a framework based on phylogenetic and taxonomic measures of distinctiveness and rarity based on the number of regions and the area of occupancy. For 25,434 orchid species with distribution data (89.3% of the Orchidaceae), we identify the Neotropics as hotspots for richness, New Guinea as a hotspot for evolutionary distinctiveness, and several islands that contain many rare and distinct species. Orchids have a similar proportion of monotypic genera as other Angiosperms, however, more taxonomically distinct orchid species are found in a single region. We identify 278 species in need of immediate conservation actions and find that more than 70% of these do not currently have an IUCN conservation assessment and are not protected in ex-situ collections at Botanical Gardens. Our study highlights locations and orchid species in urgent need of conservation and demonstrates a framework that can be applied to other data-deficient taxa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6718
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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