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Endemic plants of Crete in electronic trade and wildlife tourism: current patterns and implications for conservation

Authors
  • Menteli, Viktoria1
  • Krigas, Nikos2
  • Avramakis, Manolis3
  • Turland, Nicholas4
  • Vokou, Despoina1
  • 1 Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Department of Ecology, School of Biology, Thessaloniki, 54124, Greece , Thessaloniki (Greece)
  • 2 Institute of Plant Breeding and Genetic Resources, Hellenic Agricultural Organization Demeter, Thessaloniki, 57001, Greece , Thessaloniki (Greece)
  • 3 Natural History Museum of Crete, University of Crete, Heraklion, 71409, Greece , Heraklion (Greece)
  • 4 Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin, Königin-Luise-Str. 6-8, Berlin, 14195, Germany , Berlin (Germany)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Biological Research-Thessaloniki
Publisher
BioMed Central
Publication Date
Oct 30, 2019
Volume
26
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1186/s40709-019-0104-z
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

BackgroundThe island of Crete is a biodiversity hotspot having 223 endemic vascular taxa (species and subspecies) as a result of its long isolation and the wide range of habitats it includes. We explore trends and patterns in the electronic trade of these unique genetic resources and in their involvement in wildlife tourism, the ways these two activities are performed and the associated potential threats on the plants’ wild populations, and we also identify priority taxa requiring special attention. The main part of the study was conducted in 2016–2017 using English as a search language; an additional search was conducted in 2019 using German and French.ResultsWe found e-commerce for 28 (13%) endemic taxa. These are traded by 65 nurseries from 14 countries, the UK primarily. Among the traded plants, 16 face extinction risk and/or are under protection status. Prices vary largely for the same taxon and form of sale. Lamiaceae is the family with the highest number of e-traded taxa, Tulipa bakeri is the most traded species, and the living plant is the commonest form of sale. Thirty-seven endemic taxa are advertised in the websites of travel agencies involved in wildlife tourism. Tulipa doerfleri is the most frequently encountered taxon in these websites, whereas Lamiaceae, Liliaceae and Orchidaceae are similarly represented. The additional search showed a very rapid increase in the e-trade of the Cretan endemis.ConclusionThe two examined markets are similar in that geophytes play a prominent role and Lamiaceae rank first among the represented plant families, but differ in several aspects: only 22.6% of the taxa detected are common in both, obedience to rules exhibited by travel agencies is not usually the case with nurseries, and potential threats to wild populations are estimated as considerably higher for the traded plants. Sixteen endemic taxa of Crete were identified as requiring special attention.

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