, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 317-327
Date: 10 Apr 2008

Low genetic diversity and recovery implications of the vulnerable Bankoualé Palm Livistona carinensis (Arecaceae), from North-eastern Africa and the Southern Arabian Peninsula

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Abstract

The Bankoualé Palm, Livistona carinensis is the only known species of Livistona occurring in Africa and is currently classified as vulnerable (IUCN 2004). This extreme outlier species of the genus is restricted to Yemen, Somalia and Djibouti, where all populations are in rapid decline. In Djibouti the palm is confined to three valley systems within the upland plateau of the Goda Massif. This study used microsatellite markers to investigate the genetic diversity and relationships within the species. At the species level L. carinensis contained very low genetic diversity. Most variation was due to the variation between the samples from Yemen and Somalia compared with those in Djibouti. The Djibouti populations were almost monomorphic across the nine loci tested. Interestingly, and despite the small sample sizes, the individuals from botanic gardens collections of the Yemen and Somalia populations were more genetically diverse than the Djibouti populations. This study indicates that the populations in Yemen and Somalia are highly significant for the conservation of the species genetic diversity. Given the lack of genetic diversity both within and among L. carinensis populations in Djibouti, plants could be cultivated for in-situ population enhancement from any seed that is available from within Djibouti with no significant genetic impacts of provenance mismatch. Clearly the populations from Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen are different genetic provenances raising some issues for the conservation and recovery of L. carinensis.