, Volume 12, Issue 9, pp 1937-1951

Population genetics and conservation priorities for the critically endangered island endemic Delphinium pentagynum subsp. formenteranum (Ranunculaceae)

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Abstract

Isozyme electrophoresis was used to evaluate levels of genetic diversity and population genetic structure of the critically endangered (CR) perennial larkspur, Delphinium pentagynum subsp. formenteranum (Ranunculaceae), endemic to the island of Formentera (Balearic Islands, Spain). There is only one known population for this taxon, containing only 480 individuals. Moderate values of diversity were detected (P = 40.7%, A = 1.6 and H e = 0.180), within the range observed in other surveyed larkspurs, but higher than most island endemics. Moderate levels of inbreeding were detected, probably as a consequence of the population's genetic structuring (biparental inbreeding). Threats to this taxon are mainly anthropogenic (fires, grazing, pathway works, and building pressures), although given that only one population exists, stochastic risks cannot be ignored. Conservation of D. pentagynum subsp. formenteranum requires in situ strategies, such as implementing a monitoring program and establishing a ‘botanical reserve’, and ex situ strategies, such as collection and long-term storage of seeds.