Over expolitation of tubers of Ceropegia bulbosa var. lushii which is a narrow endemic in the Indian Desert has drastically declined its populations and made it threatened. This was confirmed by its absence at its previously reported sites in Barmer, Jodhpur, Jalore, Jhunjhunun and Jaisalmer. Its occurance in Jhalawar, a previously reported site and at another unreported site at Jalore with density of only 4-12 plants/ha confirmed that it has become rarer. Reasons for declining populations in terms of density and occurrence of C. bulbosa var. lushii due to both extrinsic and intrinsic factors (= threats) have been investigated in this paper. Extrinsic factors include overexploitation of tubers, habitat loss and fragmentation due to mining. Six tubers brought from its native sites regenerated successfully at Desert Botanical Garden , CAZRI, Jodhpur. Intrinsic threats were experimentally assessed by studying its life cycle for three years. Seeds produced by these plants under captivity showed 30-35% germination. Germination, phenology and growth of plants both, from seeds for one year and tubers for three years revealed many sensitive, risk prone stages which indicated potential threat to its regeneration in its native places. These included failure to seed set due to lack of pollinator, falling of immature follicles, exposure of seeds to open sun, sapling damage by wild animals and digging out of perenating tubers by wild ungulates and human being. Both extrinsic and intrinsic factors are responsible for its rarity in the wild. It emerged that for success in its ex-situ conservation, mature seeds, availability of partial shade and safety from wild animals are essential requirements.
Ceropegia bulbosa var. lushii, ex-situ conservation, Phenology, Population density, Rarity, Threats
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