Downing, Jason L., Liu, Hong, Shao, Shicheng, Wang, Xilong, McCormick, Melissa, Deng, Rongyan, and Gao, Jiangyun. 2017. "Contrasting changes in biotic interactions of orchid populations subject to conservation introduction vs. conventional translocation in tropical China." Biological Conservation 212, Part A:29-38. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2017.05.021
Conservation introduction (CI), i.e. moving a species out of its current natural range for conservation purposes, is a highly controversial and rarely attempted conservation measure. One particular concern with these conservation actions is whether species with obligate symbiotic relationships will be able to form these associations in the recipient locations. This study takes advantage of a massive conservation translocation of orchids at the Yachang National Nature Reserve in southwestern China. We compared the mycorrhizal associations of four of these targeted species. Two of the species (Cymbidium bicolor Lindl. and Geodorum eulophioides Schltr.) had narrow geographic ranges and were subjected to CI because the movement had placed them out of their natural ranges. While the other two species (Paphiopedilum dianthum, Tang and Wang, and Paphiopedilum hirsutissimum, (Lindl. ex Hook. f.) Pfitzer) had wide geographic ranges and were not moved outside of them. This movement can be considered a conventional translocation. Using DNA techniques, we identified orchid mycorrhizal fungi (OMF) associated with translocated and natural populations of these species. Our results indicated that translocated populations of both kinds (CI and conventional translocation) were able to establish new relationships with root fungi, including known OMF groups. Wide-ranging species associated with a greater number (24 OTUs) and more diverse groups of fungi (Shannon diversity (H´) = 0.93) than narrow range species (15 OTUs, H´ = 0.62). However, translocated populations of wide-ranging species shared fewer fungi with their natural populations than those of narrow-ranging species. This research provides the first evaluation of how critical biotic interactions may change following conservation introduction compared to that of conventional translocation, and shed light upon the feasibility of conservation introduction.