Authors: Kvist, Lars Peter; Skog, Laurence E.; Clark, John L.; Dunn, Richard W.
Publication: Lyonia
Year: 2004
Genera: Gasteranthus, Many Genera

A large component of the unique vegetation of western Ecuador is the Gesneriaceae. A total of 107 species of the family have been recorded as native to this area of ca. 80000 km2, with 23 endemic to western lowland Ecuador. Forty-two of the 107 species have also been found on Andean slopes above 1000 m elevation in western Ecuador, 75 in western Colombia, 25 in Central America and 27 in the Amazon basin including upper eastern Andean slopes. Habitat destruction threatens 36 of the 107 species, and 24 of these species are rare or absent elsewhere, and are thus endangered in their entire range. The threatened Gesneriaceae of western Ecuador are mostly either restricted to isolated ridges covered with low elevation cloud forests or were distributed in the once extensive moist forests in the central, western and southern parts of the Ecuadorian coast. If the present deforestation rate continues, however, all but the most common and somewhat weedy species will be endangered. Also, if the Gesneriaceae are indicative of the status of the flora of flowering plants below 1000 m elevation in western lowland Ecuador, nearly 500 endemic species may be extinct or endangered in the region, and another 1000+ species may equally disappear from western Ecuador.