This review focuses on woody bamboos with the highest diversity recorded in the Asia-Pacific region where bamboos play a major role in ecosystem dynamics in many forests.
Bamboos are among the least studied of all higher plants since they flower at long intervals and traditional plant taxonomy has relied heavily on floral characteristics.However, DNA sequencing and other new techniques of identification and classification are allowing for some resolution in bamboo phylogeny and systematics. These distinctions are important as domestic trade and subsistence use of 50 to 100 woody bamboo species are estimated to be worth US $ 4.5 billion per year globally.
The genetic diversity of the remaining forest bamboos, of which many are highly susceptible to deforestation, is of much greater concern and an accurate information base is required as a foundation for policy and management decisions affecting bamboo. A programme to strengthen the Red List assessments of bamboo species status is also needed, one that prioritizes the assessment of species with the smallest estimated geographical ranges and least remaining habitat.
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