Ecological Services in the Caribbean
Oficina de Servicios Ecológicos del Caribe -- Southeast Region
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September 9, 2014 - Press Release  PDF ver (163KB)

Comunicado en español  PDF ver (68KB)

Scientific name: Gonocalyx concolor

Common Name: No common name

Status: Endangered.

Distribution: Only on mountain tops in Cayey, San Lorenzo and Patillas, Puerto Rico

On September 9, 2014 the Service listed the Gonocalyx concolor as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

See the map with areas proposed to be designated as critical habitat: Gonocalyx concolor Index Map (PDF 70KB)

Species Description 

Gonocalyx concolor is a small evergreen shrub that mainly grows on the trunk of trees or uses other vegetation as support. G concolor may reach 15 feet (4.7 meters) in length. The leaves are simple, alternate, entire and leathery. Leaves are ovate, broadly elliptic, with the base ending in a short sharp point. Young leaves and branches are brilliantly rose colored, but become green with age. Flowers are bisexual, uniformly vivid red, and hang shaped like a bell. The fruit is a berry.

Habitat 

Gonocalyx concolor critical habitat is 198 acres (80.1 hectares) of Elfin and Ausubo forests at the Carite Commonwealth Forest in east-central Puerto Rico. 

Most important habitat units proposed for designation as critical habitat:

  1.  Cerro La Santa, Carite Commonwealth Forest, Puerto Rico 

  2.  Charco Azul, Carite Commonwealth Forest, Puerto Rico

Habitat and Biological Features the Species Needs for Survival:

The following are the physical or biological features that make it essential for the recovery of Gonocalyx concolor and criteria for selection in our proposal for critical habitat designation.

Primary Constituent Element 1- Elfin Forest at elevation over 2,887 feet (880 meters) in Cerro La Santa, which includes:

(A) Forest with single canopy layer with trees exceeding 22 feet (7 meters) in height.

(B) Plant association comprised by few native trees species (e.g., Tabebuia schumanniana (roble Colorado), Tabebuia rigida (roble de sierra), Ocotea spathulata (nemoca cimarrona), Eugenia borinquensis (guayabota) and Clusia minor (cupey de monte), and Prestoea acuminate var montana (sierra palm), native ferns, and dense covered with epiphytes including bromeliads and mosses.

                                   

Primary Constituent Element 2- Ausubo Forest at elevations between 2,034 to 2,329 feet (620 and 720 meters) in the Charco Azul area, which includes:

(A) Forest with single canopy layer with trees exceeding 22 feet (7 meters) in height.

(B) Plant association comprised by few native tree species [e.g., Manikara bidentata (ausubo), Dracoydes excels (tabonuco), Guarea Guidonia (guaragua), and Cyrilla racemiflora (palo colorado)], native ferns, and dense covered with epiphytes including bromeliads and mosses.

(C) Vegetation comprised by native trees (i.e., Manikara bidentata (ausubo), Dracoydes excels (tabonuco), Guarea guidonia (guaragua), and Cyrilla racemiflora (palo colorado).

Conservation Opportunities

Currently, no information is available about reproductive capacity, dispersion or habitat requirements for G. concolor.  Studying these biological and physical parameters would aid development of a conservation plan and strategies that may include exploration of other locations that may continue to harbor this plant.

The species’ rarity and restricted distribution makes it vulnerable to habitat destruction and modification.  The most significant locations of the known population occur adjacent to telecommunication facilities and at the edge of an existing access road.  The proliferation of communication antennas has increased with the advent of cellular phone and related technologies.  While the towers themselves may not occupy a very large area, construction activities, access roads, and other facilities, have a much wider impact, resulting in the elimination of potential habitat for the species.  The Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office will continue to provide guidance to companies that plan, install, and operate telecommunication towers and the utility company that maintains power lines in the area to avoid losing plants and destroying their habitat.

Gonocalyx concolor populations only are found on public lands managed for conservation by the Puerto Rico Department of National and Environmental Resources (PRDNER).  The PRDNER developed a management plan for all Commonwealth Forests in 1976; however, specific measures to protect this species are not included in the plan.  If listed, the Service will work with others to develop conservation strategies to help the protection and recovery of the species.  

Existing Legal Protections that need to be promoted and enforced

Gonocalyx concolor is considered a critical element by the PRDNER Natural Heritage Program as defined by Law No. 150, known as the Puerto Rico Natural Heritage Law (Ley del Programa de Patrimonio Natural de Puerto Rico). A critical element is defined as a species that should be considered for conservation because of its contribution to biodiversity and because of its importance to the natural heritage of Puerto Rico.  

Law No. 241 also known as New Wildlife Law of Puerto Rico (Nueva Ley de Vida Silvestre de Puerto Rico) protects, conserves and enhances both native and migratory wildlife species, including plants; declares all wildlife species within its jurisdiction as property of Puerto Rico, and regulates permits, hunting activities, and exotic species.  

The only known populations of Gonocalyx concolor are located within the Carite Commonwealth Forest.  Cutting, killing, destroying, uprooting, extracting or in any way hurting G. concolor without a permit from the PRDNER is prohibited by Law No.133 (12 L.P.R.A. sec. 191) 1975, as amended in 2000, known as the Puerto Rico Forest Law (Ley de Bosques de Puerto Rico).

 

 

 

Last updated: September 10, 2014