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Expanding Ecominga’s Reserves In Northern Ecuador

The OCA is embarking on a fundraising campaign to help buy 1221 acres for Fundación Ecominga’s Reserva Dracula.

Photo of Dracula terborchii orchidEcominga’s Reserva Dracula is in a valley near the town of Carchi on the border with Colombia (see map below). Previous land acquisitions in this region established mid- and high-elevation holdings that serve as a center of diversity for the orchid genus Dracula, including Dracula terborchii (at right and in the photo gallery above). The proposed acquisitions, known as the Hermanos Yela property, will expand the reserve to include lower-elevation species. In many instances, the reserve property includes the only known Ecuadorian populations of several Dracula species. Additionally, the reserve’s holdings have been the source of many new orchid species as well as other flora and fauna. This reserve is financed by the OCA, the University of Basel, and the Rainforest Trust. The University of Basel and the OCA have each contributed about a quarter of the funds to purchase the reserve property, and the Rainforest Trust has contributed the other half. Our current fundraising drive is to provide $110,000 over the next three years, $35-40,000 per year, to acquire the 1221 acres available for purchase. This acreage is a single block, making it the largest single tract in the reserve.

In the map below, the property to be purchased is the largest of the blue colored areas to the northwest of Carchi.

Lou Jost, Fundación Ecominga’s director, has identified several orchid species of concern in the Hermanos Yela property:

Dracula syndactyla: This is a rare species known from a couple of specimens from Colombia and extreme northwest Ecuador. The Hermanos Yela property contains the only known Ecuadorian population.

Dracula terborchii: This is a recently-described species, originally discovered as a cultivated plant in Europe. The only known wild populations are in our Dracula Reserve. The population we had hoped to protect by extending the Dracula Reserve to Gualpi is no longer capable of being protected. A few plants occur in the Cerro Colorado unit [These are the red, yellow, and orange properties just below the word ‘Ecuador’] of the Dracula Reserve; the population in the Hermanos Yela property is separate, and its protection will increase the chances of long-term viability for this species.

Dracula trigonopetala: This recently-described species is also known from the Gualpi area. As mentioned above, that area can no longer be protected. The population in the Hermanos Yela property may be the only viable population under protection.

Pleurothallis chicalensis: A newly-described species, known only from the Dracula Reserve in Ecuador and the nearby La Planada Reserve in Colombia.

Trevoria sp nov: This is a large, undescribed species, a description of which is in the process of being submitted for publication. It is known only from a few low-elevation sites in and around our Dracula Reserve. The population in the Hermanos Yela property will be important for the species’ long-term viability.

Scaphosepalum anchoriferum: New for South America; previously known from Central America.

Two new species of Platystele, four new species of Lepanthes, one new species of Scaphosepalum, and five new species of Stelis also have been found on this property so far.

In addition to the orchids noted by Lou Jost, the Hermanos Yela property holds populations of a new blue eyed Pristimantis frog, an endemic critically-endangered toad Atelopus coynei, and a new forest mouse in the genus Chilomys. The Hermanos Yela property is truly amazing for its wealth of novel faunal biodiversity in addition to the impressive orchid biodiversity found there.

For more information on the Dracula Reserve and the organisms mentioned here, see https://ecomingafoundation.wordpress.com/category/plants/orchids.

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Latest News & Upcoming Trips

What’s Happening With the Dracula Reserve?

I’m sure that more than one of you would like to know how we did last year raising money for the Dracula Reserve in Ecuador, what happened to the money, and what our plans are for this year. First, the fundraising results: In a word, Amazing. From all donations and membership renewals you donated $86,221.…

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Saving Orchids in the Wild

As orchid lovers, members of the OCA work to preserve orchids and orchid habitats. We create protected reserves where wild orchids can continue to live and blossom in the rain and sunshine. A side benefit is that everything else that lives in the reserve is protected too.

ORCHID RESERVES

The OCA protects orchid in their native habitats because this approach preserves many species of orchids in the same space, even ones not yet identified, as well as the ecosystems in which they exist. In their natural setting, orchids are subject to the environmental pressures that led to their evolution in the first place, and thus they are most at home there. They are adapted to the local climate. Their pollinators are there. And in their native habitat that orchids maintain themselves. In these pages you can learn more about the reserves we have created and you can help with this work.

ORCHID ECOTOURS – Orchids in the Wild

An orchid blooming on a tree trunk in the sun and rain of its native habitat is one of the miracles of the natural world every orchid lover should see at least once. The OCA sponsors trips to see orchids in the wild in our reserves as well as elsewhere. So far we have had trips to Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, China, France, Greece, and Thailand.  In 2018 we will go to Mexico, China, and Colombia. Primarily, these trips are a lot of fun. You will come home with many wonderful orchid photos. They are also very educational; once you see how the orchids you are trying to grow at home actually grow in nature you will know a lot more about the particular conditions that will make them thrive for you. Orchids in the Wild tours take you to places you would never see otherwise.

Protecting Orchids

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OCA Board of Directors

Peter Tobias

Ph.D. Director and OCA President. Former chair, San Diego County Orchid Society Conservation Committee; Member, Orchid Specialist Group, IUCN; Board Member, Orchid Digest Foundation.Retired Associate Professor of Biochemistry, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA Orchid interests: Conservation, landscaping with orchids, orchid focused ecotourism.

Ron Kaufmann

Ph. D. Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, and Associate Professor of Environmental and Ocean Sciences, University of San Diego. Ron also serves on the boards of the EcoMinga Foundation (a conservation organization based in Ecuador) and Orchid Digest.

Steve Beckendorf

Ph.D. Director. Member, Orchid Specialist Group, IUCN. Member, American Orchid Society Conservation Committee. Director, The Orchid Digest Corporation. Professor Emeritus of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley. Orchid interests: Orchids of the Andes, especially Odontoglossums, Cyrtochilums, Masdevallias; preservation of orchid-rich cloud forests.

Mary Gerritsen

Ph.D. Director. President San Francisco Orchid Society (2011-2014), former president Peninsula Orchid Society (2008). Consulting professor of vascular surgery, Stanford, independent consultant to biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Former Vice President, Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, Exelixis. Author of two books on orchids (Masdevallias, Gems of the Orchid World; Miniature Orchids), and one on a genus of North American wildflowers (Calochortus, Mariposa Lilies and their Relatives) with co-author and photographer, Ron Parsons. Orchid interests: cool and intermediate growing miniature orchids, preservation of orchid habitats.