The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund recently supported a large collaborative project to study and conserve the Endangered Bahamian cycad, Zamia lucayana. The project brought together experts from The Bahamas National Trust (BNT), Florida International University (FIU), Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (FTBG), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC), for a highly successful collaboration. Herbarium specimens, seeds, locality data, and DNA samples were collected from this very rare species endemic to Long Island.
Public lectures were presented at meetings at the Retreat Garden National Park in Nassau and at the Community Center on Long Island. Dr. Javier Francisco-Ortega presented a lecture about Tropical Botanical Research and Education at FIU and FTBG, Tracy Magellan presented a talk about MBC’s ex situ conservation program, Michael Calonje (MBC) presented a talk about Bahamian zamias emphasizing our findings with Zamia lucayana, and Lindy Knowles presented a talk about the Bahamas National Trust.
The audiences were highly engaged in the findings, and interested to learn their local Zamia, known as “Bay Rush,” was a globally rare species. Informational posters and postcards were distributed to environmental and governmental agencies, to the Long Island Museum, and to several schools for distribution to students at the start of the school year.
The outreach team returned to the Zamia lucayana populations which were visited at the start of the project one and a half years ago, and were pleased to find that the habitat remained intact. However, some of the land including Zamia lucayana plants may change ownership in the near future. The broad outreach in this project can help reach the important future stewards of this living treasure.
The Zamia lucayana project was a highly successful project bringing together all the components of Montgomery Botanical Center’s mission of supporting research, conservation, and education.