Podocarpus rusbyi J.Buchholz & N.E.Gray

Podocarpaceae

Native to Peru and Bolivia where deforestation is the main cause for the loss of habitat of this species

Associated Names:

Distribution

Occurs in Peru (Cusco and near Machu Pichu) and Bolivia (Dept. Cochabamba, La Paz, Santa Cruz). It has an estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) of 22,500 km² and an area of occupancy (AOO) of less than 2,000 km². Although the population is naturally fragmented, due to the specific habitat requirements in cloud forest where small stands occur, it has also become further fragmented due to deforestation.

Habitat and Ecology

Podocarpus rusbyi occurs in tropical montane rainforest and high montane cloud forest up to the tree line. In Peru it was found in lower montane rainforest in Cusco, between 700 m and 1,300 m a.s.l., and near Machu Pichu in high montane forest at 2,900 m a.s.l. In Bolivia, where the species is relatively much more common and widespread, its altitudinal range is between 1500 m and 3,350 m a.s.l.. At high altitudes it forms thickets with other dwarfed trees and shrubs. In Parque Nacional Madidi it is associated with Weinmannia fagaroides, W. microphylla, W. bangii, Clusia spp., Myrsine coriacea, Psychotria tristis, Miconia spp., Persea spp. Ternstroemia spp., Freziera spp., and Symplocos spp. (Zenteno-Ruiz 2007).

Human Uses

No specific uses are known but as with other species of Podocarpus which form trees, the wood of this species will be valued

Conservation Status

Global status

Vulnerable B2ab(ii,iii,v)

Although relatively widespread in Bolivia, its range includes large areas of forest habitats that have become degraded by deforestation for agricultural purposes. The extent of occurrence has been estimated as being 22,500 km² which is beyond the threshold for any threatened category. However, like other members of the Podocarpaceae in Bolivia and Peru, P. rusbyi grows in small stands. These stands exist in less than 10 locations and although there are no accurate figures, it is estimated that the area of occupancy would not exceed 2,000 km² which means it should be assessed as Vulnerable under criterion B2.

Global Threats

Throughout its relatively widespread distribution in Bolivia and Peru, it is under threat from deforestation. In Bolivia this threat, even in national parks, is due to the conversion of forests for agricultural purposes in order to grow cash crops, particularly for the production of coca. Data suggests an increase in production of coca in protected areas of Bolivia: between 2003 and 2004 its cultivation increased by 71% in the national parks of Bolivia’s Chapare region, (as opposed to increasing only 22% outside national park boundaries (UNODC 2005)). This is significant because the distribution of P. rusbyi includes this region. Habitat loss and general degradation due to human activities has also increased as a result of more intensified road-building efforts

Conservation Actions

It has protection in: Bolivia - Parque Nacional Amboro, Parque Nacional Cotapata, Parque Nacional Madidi and in Peru -Parque Nacional Machu Pichu