New information on the distribution and status of bariaco
photo by Frank Suárez, UPRM
September 9, 2012
Contact: Lilibeth Serrano, Public Affairs Specialist, USFWS, 787-505-4397
The US Fish and Wildlife Service and botanists from the University of Puerto Rico, recently reviewed the status of the endangered bariaco plant (Trichilia triacantha). The experts report that the distribution of natural populations previously believed to be almost restricted to the Guánica Commonwealth Forest, have expanded and now extend east to the municipality of Ponce, Puerto Rico. The species is currently known from about 15 populations, of which only a few seem to be healthy and showing natural recruitment.
Bariaco, a shrub or tree in the Meliaceae family is endemic to Puerto Rico and federally listed as an endangered species of the United States. It has leaves made up of several leathery, spine-toothed leaflets and the flowers are white. The fruit is a capsule with a red fleshy cover. The estimated number of bariaco plants known to exist is 162 (not including seedlings). Although the species has expanded its range and the number of natural individuals, the plant and it’s habitat still threatened by urban and tourism development.
Through this status reviewt, the USFWS identified the need to update the species recovery plan and recommends the species remains clasified as endangered, because the majority of the suitable habitat is located within private lands currently under pressure for tourism and residential development. The fact that most of the bariaco populations are known within the Guánica Commonwealth Forest may be due to little exploration of private lands adjacent to this Forest. The prime habitat for the species may remain unprotected and compromise the recovery potential of the species.
The full 2012 review is available to the public at http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/five_year_review/doc4032.pdf. The document is a road map for further studies and actions that once implemented will move forward the recovery of bariaco. To get involved in the recovery efforts for this species, view the Recovery Implementation Progress and find a match for you or your organization.
The lead management responsibility for bariaco is assigned to the Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office within the Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region. Detailed Information about bariaco can be found on the following designated Fish and Wildlife Office websites: http://ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/profile/speciesProfile.action?spcode=Q2KU .
For more information you can also contact Omar Monsegur, USFWS biologist at 787-851-7297 extension 217.