, Volume 277, Issue 1-2, pp 105-116

Influence of phenological barriers and habitat differentiation on the population genetic structure of the balearic endemic Rhamnus ludovici-salvatoris Chodat and R. alaternus L.

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Rhamnus ludovici-salvatoris, endemic to the Gymnesian Islands, coexists with the related and widespread R. alaternus in Mallorca and Menorca. In both species, the population genetic structure using RAPD, and flowering during a 3-year period to check for possible phenological barriers, were analyzed. Rhamnus ludovici-salvatoris showed lower genetic diversity and stronger population structure than R. alaternus, the Cabrera population being less diverse and the most differentiated. Rhamnus ludovici-salvatoris flowered one month later, although flowering of both species coincided sporadically. These congeners seem to have diverged through isolation by time and differentiation in habitat. The population genetic structure of R. ludovici-salvatoris could mainly be due to the existence of small populations on the one hand, and a gene flow caused by rare hybridization events on the other, which may also explain the presence of morphologically intermediate individuals in Menorca. The conservation of R. ludovici-salvatoris populations may include population reinforcements and other in situ interventions.