The fieldwork component of a multi-institutional collaboration focused on conducting research on Bahamian Zamias has recently been completed. The field research, conducted on five separate trips, included fieldwork on all six islands in The Bahamas in which the genus Zamia occurs.
Research was conducted on Long Island (December 2009), Andros (February 2010), New Providence (March 2010), Eleuthera (March-April, 2010 and February 2011), Abaco (February 2011), and Grand Bahama (February 2011).
The Bahamian research was funded by the Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, with additional funding for field research provided by Montgomery Botanical Center. The field research was conducted in partnership with the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) by Dr. Javier Francisco-Ortega (Florida International University [FIU], Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden [FTBG]), Dr. Alan Meerow (United States Department of Agriculture [USDA]), Michael Calonje (MBC), Lindy Knowles (Bahamas National Trust [BNT]), David Knowles (BNT), and Camilla Adair (BNT). Additional field assistance was provided by Louis Johnson, Sarah Gilmer, Russell Adams, and Claudia Calonje (MBC).
The field work included collecting DNA samples for genetic studies that will be conducted at Dr. Alan Meerow’s lab, herbarium specimens to document wild Zamia populations, and seeds for ex-situ preservation.
During the fieldwork in the Bahamas we found the genus Zamia to be much more morphologically diverse than expected. For example, Zamia angustifolia has the narrowest leaflets in the genus, whereas Zamia lucayana has some of the widest leaflets among Caribbean Zamia. The diversity of habitats in which Zamia occurs was also quite surprising, as we found plants growing in pinelands, hardwood coppice, shaded coastal sand dunes, and coastal scrub.
The fieldwork resulted in a greater understanding of the distribution, ecology, and conservation status of Bahamian Zamia, and the results of the genetic studies will help clarify how different populations of Zamia in The Bahamas are related to each other and to other similar taxa found throughout the Caribbean.