Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Department of Biology

Advisor(s)

Heather Griscom

Patrice Ludwig

Michael Renfroe

Abstract

Approximately two thirds of St. John is National Park territory. However, the land has been threatened with tourism and development, greatly impacting island biodiversity. One species that may become extinct due to this degradation is Solanum conocarpum. S. conocarpum is a rare shrub, endemic to the dry tropical forests of St. John, USVI. This plant is a species of conservation concern and is one of very few native and endemic plants on this island. Very little is known about the ecology and reproduction of S. conocarpum. Most plants are found on the southern half of the island. Recent observations have indicated that the greatest threat may be lack of regeneration, possibly due to suboptimal habitat conditions. This study investigated the ecology of S. conocarpum in order to begin identifying optimal areas for reintroduction. Results showed that plant growth and reproduction differed significantly between five known populations. Some populations were more negatively affected by herbivory than other populations but this was not due to differences in secondary compounds (cyanogenic glycosides). The population closest to the shoreline (Nanny Point) had the greatest number of individuals and largest size (diameter) but also had the lowest survival due to the hurricanes in 2017. We conclude that sites further away from the shoreline and of western aspect (similar to Reef Bay) are optimal locations for Solanum conocarpum reintroduction.

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