, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 357-376

Species diversity, endemism and conservation of the family Caryophyllaceae in Greece

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Abstract

The family Caryophyllaceae includes world-wide 86 genera and approximately 2100 species. Greece is one of its most important centres of diversity and endemism. A total of 428 Caryophyllaceae taxa are distributed in Greece, 161 of them being endemic to the Greek political territory. The endemic element represents approximately 5% of the global diversity of the family at the species level. The aim of this paper is to discuss the distribution patterns of the Greek endemic Caryophyllaceae, as well as those with a limited distribution range to the neighbouring areas of the Balkans and Anatolia, on the basis of the phytogeographical regions of Greece in order to identify the important regions for their conservation. The majority of the Greek endemic Caryophyllaceae (64.6%) are distributed in only one single phytogeographical region, or even a smaller area indicating the extremely restricted distribution ranges of the endemic plants in Greece. Actually 83 Greek endemic Caryophyllaceae can be grouped on cytotaxonomic criteria. Most of them belong to the category of schizoendemics (91.6%), indicating that the endemism of Caryophyllaceae in Greece has mainly originated in an active way. Cluster analysis has been used to classify the phytogeographical regions according to their floristic similarities. Two iterative complementarity methods were used to evaluate the importance of each phytogeographical region in the conservation of the endemic Caryophyllaceae in Greece. Peloponnisos, Kriti-Karpathos and Sterea Ellas are the most important phytogeographical regions in this respect, followed by North Central and North East. When adding the Balkan-Aegean-Anatolian endemics to the analysis, Peloponnisos, North Central, Kriti-Karpathos, North East and Eastern Aegean result as the most important areas. In every case, an elevated number of sites are required for the conservation of Caryophyllaceae in Greece, reflecting the great dissimilarities in the floristic composition of the various phytogeographical regions. The results provided by the different methods are compared. A catalogue of the Greek endemic Caryophyllaceae is appended.