From: Bangor University
Published January 2, 2018 09:44 AM

Scientists call for action to tackle the threat of invasive tree species to a global biodiversity hotspot

An invasive Australian tree is now posing a serious threat to a global diversity ‘hotspot’ according to new collaborative research between Landcare Research in New Zealand, the Universities of Cambridge (UK) Denver (US) and Bangor University (UK).

This species, Pittosporum undulatum, known locally as mock orange, was introduced to a botanic garden in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica in the late 19th century. As its local name suggests, this fast-growing, glossy-leaved tree has bright orange fruit which open to reveal small, sticky, sugary-coated seeds. These are widely dispersed by native Jamaican bird species and it has been invading new habitats at a high rate. At first, the species took over land abandoned from the cultivation of coffee and tree crops, but more recently it has expanded into the natural forests of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park. This invasion was accelerated by the damage caused to the forests by Hurricane Gilbert 29 years ago, and it is likely to be further advanced by future major hurricanes.

The National Park is a globally important hotspot of biodiversity with many rare and endangered species, including orchids, butterflies and birds, some of which are found nowhere else in the world except for the mountain forests of Jamaica.

Continue reading at Bangor University

Image: Fruit of the mock orange tree, containing the seeds that are widely dispersed by native bird species.  CREDIT: John Healey

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