Paepalanthus Mart. sect. Diphyomene Ruhland (Eriocaulaceae) is mainly diversified in the savannas of Central Brazil (Cerrado). This is an unusual pattern regarding the highest diversity of Eriocaulaceae in Southeastern Brazil (in the Espinhaço Range). Despite this interesting contrast, the geographic distribution of these species has yet to be explored. The present work aims to detail the geographic distribution of species of Paepalanthus sect. Diphyomene in order to discuss biogeographical patterns. The species are also categorized according to their risk of extinction, based on the IUCN criteria, establishing their conservation status and implications for the conservation of the Cerrado domain. Distribution maps were constructed for each species based on geographical coordinates obtained in the field or from herbarium specimens. All eighteen species occur in the Cerrado domain, with sixteen species exclusive to it, whilst Paepalanthus erectifolius Silveira and P. chiquitensis Herzog also occur in the Caatinga and Amazonian domains, respectively. We hereby confirm that the center of diversity of the section is situated in Central Brazil, more precisely in the Chapada dos Veadeiros, where eight species occur. Thirteen species are restricted to a single locality, and are categorized as critically endangered. Four species are regionally restricted, two of them are vulnerable, one is endangered, and the other one is considered of least concern, together with P. chiquitensis, a widely distributed species. The extension of occurrence of each species is used as a basis for their assessed conservation status. Our results reinforce the importance of the preservation of the Cerrado as a whole. The distribution patterns in association with the conservation status revealed important areas for conservation of the Cerrado, and corroborate the importance of previously established areas for conserving biodiversity.
Biogeography, Cerrado, Endemism, Extent of occurrence, IUCN Red List