Chapter 10
Conclusions

For in situ conservation of wild relatives of crop plants
(WRCPs), it is necessary to know which WRCPs are thriving well and
in which kind of habitats. A knowledge of autecology and biology of
WRCP of interest and community ecology of the vegetation to which
it belongs, its interspecific association and interdependence with
other components of the ecosystem is also necessary. Based on such
information individual species-specific or multispecies,
multilocation (multihabitat) in situ conservation strategies could
be planned.
A logical approach for maximising number of species being
saved while selecting sites for in situ conservation is given. In
this approach, following four methods are used for a data-set from
Uttara Kannada and discussed: a) testing all possible combinations,
b) testing limited combinations that are more likely to have
optimal solution, c) pooling similar sites into clusters of site(s)
of manageable number and testing all possible combinations, and d)
greedy method. The first three methods could be considered further
advancements over the fourth method which is commonly used at
present but it is not foolproof. The approach can be used at all
the levels of spatial scale. This would be helpful in maximising
the number of species being saved either through in situ
conservation or maximising the number of accessions conserved
through ex situ conservation.
The basic idea behind in situ conservation is to maintain the
concerned organisms in their natural habitats where they are
thriving well and are in good relationship and evolving with other
components of the ecosystem. Therefore, it is necessary to find out
the order of habitat preference for species of interest. Abundance,
frequency of occurrence, quality of habitat, habitat preference,
and species association of 50 WRCPs is discussed in detail. This
would help in decision making about selection of sites if
species-specific approaches are taken for their in situ
conservation.
The fact that species of interest are co-occurring in one or
more habitats forces us to think for common caring strategies for
such co-occurring species. Therefore, 50 chosen WRCPs were
classified to find out association among themselves and habitats of
these species clusters were characterised and the successional
gradient of these 50 WRCPs was worked out by reciprocal averaging.
Such information would help in taking multispecies, multihabitat
approach for in situ conservation. An example is given from Uttara
Kannada and the idea could be extended to any level of spatial
scale.
The landscape of Uttara Kannada is made of a number of
landscape elements or habitat types. The 46 sampled sites
representing a number of major habitat types were classified based
on presence/absence of 50 chosen WRCPs and the resulting 13
site-clusters were characterized based on 11 community parameters.
One site cluster had no WRCP. Therefore, all possible combinations
could be tested for the remaining 12 site-clusters having 50 chosen
WRCPs. If we consider only these WRCPs then the resulting
combinations of site-clusters saving maximum WRCPs could be
selected for in situ conservation. However, only WRCPs alone
cannot be conserved in isolation (devoid of other organisms). Other
associated plants and all components of the ecosystem will have to
be maintained. Moreover, habitats or LSEs are constantly being
transformed by anthropogenic factors into more economically
valuable LSEs. Therefore, conservation strategies will have to be
planned with full consideration of the ongoing habitat changes.
A habitat approach is discussed for conserving rare Myristica
swamp habitats of the Western Ghats. It is shown that despite being
part of evergreen forests, Myristica swamps are a distinct habitat
type within evergreen forests. It is suggested to locate remaining
Myristica swamps and remove threats, if any. To attract attention,
declaring them "burning spots" within "hot spot" and "spices' gene
sanctuary" might also help in saving them. Linking their
conservation with ecotourism business might also help.
For Amorphophallus species, in situ conservation measures are
discussed based on a detailed study of their ecology and biology.
The long term maintenance of populations of Amorphophallus would
require simultaneous attention to the conservation of preferred
habitats of the plants as well as quality of the habitat for their
pollinators and seed dispersal agents.
For wild rices and their weedy relatives (Oryza species), a
detailed analysis of the current scenario of their status and
perceived threats to their populations is given. Introducing them
into Ramsar wetlands, linking their in situ conservation with bird
watching and ecotourism, and taking help of local people dependent
on wild rices and these wetlands might help.