HYDRANGEACEAE: Biodiversity & Conservation

January 2009 to present, including several PhD and MSc studies

This page concerns the projects focussing on Hydrangea conservation, to view all ongoing Hydrangeaceae projects click here.

Genetic diversity and conservation of Hydrangea
Within the PLAN(E)T project, apart from the main target of comparing genetic diversity between wild populations and ex situ collections, the expected difference in genetic diversity between American and Asian populations will be quantified. Moreover, for the American root-climbing Hydrangea species, additional questions about the exact circumscription of individuals and populations will be tackled. This is not possible to investigate in the field because adult plants seem to be connected by stolons running below the leaf mould at ground level in between the host trees. A good insight in individual versus population circumscription is important for the Red List (see below) which is being prepared, as well as for the set-up of local living collections.

Red Listing Hydrangeas
A Red List of Hydrangea s.l. is being prepared in cooperation with Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). In the course of our ongoing work on conservation, evolution and taxonomy of this genus, recent expeditions have been organised by several members of Research Group Spermatophytes to the following countries: Chile, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Japan, Mexico, Peru and Taiwan, covering a substantial part of its distribution area in tropical and subtropical areas. For more information you can visit the BGCI website.

Hydrangea in Mexico
A specific conservation project for this group is carried out in Mexico. Recent exploring field work in central Mexico (2010-2012) revealed the presence of several new species which had never been noticed and collected before and which are already at risk. These new species are easily distinguishable based on a wide range of vegetative, inflorescence and floral characters which apparently never had been observed before. Moreover, the fact that these remarkable plants remained undiscovered up to now is especially striking because of their growth form and size. The largest individuals grow more than 30 meters high, with a thick flexible stem which thickens to the very top where it branches like a shrub and flowers exuberantly above or just below the tree canopy. Because of their size, material for further study can only be collected using mountaineering equipment and techniques. During this project, we are taking actions for in situ and ex situ conservation of these species in cooperation with CONANP (Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas), Conservation International and local indigenous people living near the localities. For more information, have a look at the webpage of the Cornidia project.
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Relevant publications:
Samain MS, Hernández Najarro F, Martínez Salas EM (2014) First record of the critically endangered Hydrangea steyermarkii Standl. (Hydrangeaceae) in Mexico, and description of a new widespread Hydrangea species of Mesoamerica. Phytotaxa 162 (4): 181-197.
Samain MS, De Smet Y. (2012) Report on conservation of the genus Hydrangea. Report of the Second meeting of the IUCN/SSC Global Tree Specialist Group. Towards a global tree assessment, Annex 1, p. 17-18.
Samain MS, Cires E. (2012) Plants for the future – A future for our planet. Towards a protocol for genetic management of ex situ living plant collections. BG Journal 9 (1): 3-6. Click here to download a PDF of this article.
Samain MS, Wanke S, Goetghebeur P. (2010) Unraveling extensive paraphyly in the genus Hydrangea s.l. with implications for the systematics of tribe Hydrangeeae. Systematic Botany 35: 593-600.

Principal investigator:
Dr. Marie-Stéphanie Samain - INECOL, Mexico

Associated researchers:
Drs. Yannick De Smet
Dr. Carolina Granados Mendoza - Instituto de Biología, UNAM, Mexico

Prof. Dr. Paul Goetghebeur

Laboratory technician:
Pieter Asselman

Instituto de Ecología (INECOL), Mexico

Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), UK

Dr. Stefan Wanke - TU Dresden, Germany

Esteban Martínez - Herbario Nacional, Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Paco Najarro - Departamento de Flora de la Dirección de Botánica Dr. Faustino Miranda, Mexico
Instituto de Historia Natural, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico
CONANP (Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas) - Región Frontera Sur, Istmo y Pacífico Sur, Mexico

Conservation International

Research Foundation Flanders PhD grant (project n° 1151811N)

BOF (Special Research Fund) PhD research grant (n° 01J03309)

Mohammed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (project number 11251854)

Fondation Franklinia

A private sponsor

Ghent University
Department of Biology
Research Group Spermatophytes
Ghent University Botanical Garden