Podocarpus fasciculus de Laub.

Podocarpaceae

Distributed in several islands of the Ryukyu Islands of Japan and in Taiwan; threats including selective logging and forest clearance for agricultural purposes.

Description

Taxonomic notes

De Laubenfels (1985) described P. fasciculus as a new species based on his own collections from Taiwan, with one of these designated as the type. Similar plants were described from southern Japan (Kyushu: Nagasaki; Ryukyu Islands: Iriomote Island) as P. macrophyllus var. liukiuensis Warb. and as P. macrophyllus f. grandifolius Pilg. from the Ryukyu Islands. Iriomote Island is close to Taiwan and P. fasciculus occurs on several other islands in the Ryukyus, up to the main islands of Japan (Walker, 1976; Nakamura, 2009).

Distribution

Found in Japan and Taiwan. In Japan it occurs down through the Ryukyu Islands Arc on the islands of Shikoku, Kyushu and Nansei-Shoto. In Taiwan it is found in the northcentrral region in the counties of Nantou,Taichung and Taitung (Tawushan Nature Reserve). The extent of occurrence (EOO) on Taiwan is in excess of 3000km²; the total EOO is likely to be in excess of 20,000km². It is known from at least eight locations. The area of occupancy (AOO) is currently unknown.

Habitat and Ecology

Podocarpus fasciculus is a small to medium size tree in evergreen, lower montane to montane forests. It is often found as an understorey tree, but may reach the canopy in lower forest types on the oceanic Ryukyus Islands. Its ecology remains poorly described in the available literature. In Taiwan, its altitudinal range is between 1500 and 2500m above sea-level (Lu, 1996).

Human Uses

In Taiwan this species has been exploited for its timber, but as most trees do not attain large size, its commercial importance is limited. The wood is used for light construction, carpentry, and sometimes furniture making. It may be planted in city parks as an ornamental, masquerading under the general name P. macrophyllus, to which it is superficially similar.

Conservation Status

Global status

Vulnerable A2acd

Global rationale

Podocarpus fasciculus has previously been assessed as Endangered in Taiwan (Chang, 1996) or as Near Threatened at the global level (Conifer Specialist Group, 2000) on the basis of limited distribution and continuing decline. These assessments used the previous IUCN categories and criteria. Under the Version 3.1 categories and criteria the extent of occurrence is beyond the threshold for Vulnerable. However, it is very likely that there has been a past decline of at least 30% due to selective logging (Taiwan), clear-felling, selective logging and the conversion of forests for agriculture or plantation forestry (Ryukyu Islands and Japan) within the last three generations where one generation is estimated to be at least 25 years. On this basis an assesment of Vulnerable under the A2 criteria is warranted.

Global threats

In Taiwan this species has been threatened by selective logging. In the Ryukyu Islands it is likely to have been impacted by recent (post 1945) clear-felling, selective logging and the conversion of lowland forests to agriculture. The status of the mainland Japanese subpopulations are uncertain.

Conservation Actions

In Taiwan some subpopulations are within protected areas. Field surveys are required to determine the status of the Japanese subpopulations.