Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 299, Issue 2, pp 439–446 | Cite as

The ‘paradigm of extremes’: extremely low genetic diversity in an extremely narrow endemic species, Coristospermum huteri (Umbelliferae)

  • Jordi López-PujolEmail author
  • M. Carmen Martinell
  • Sergi Massó
  • Cèsar Blanché
  • Llorenç Sáez
Original Article


Low levels of genetic diversity in endemic species are generally attributable to the small size of their populations. This lack of genetic variability will, predictably, be more evident in those species that occur in only one or a very few localities with a total population consisting of a few dozen individuals, or sometimes fewer (i.e. ‘extremely narrow endemics’, ENEs). We used allozyme electrophoresis to survey the genetic variability of Coristospermum huteri, an endemic species from the island of Majorca (Balearic Islands, W. Mediterranean Basin) with a single natural population of about 100 individuals. As expected, allozyme variability was virtually nil for this species (P = 8.3 %, A = 1.08, H e = 0.022), which seems to be a general rule for ENEs (mean H e = 0.057). A founder effect associated with a dispersal event from the continent is probably behind the lack of genetic diversity in this highly threatened species. Preservation of the mountain summit where the plant is found (Puig Major) is essential for the survival of C. huteri, and would also guarantee the conservation of other ENEs and rare and threatened species.


Coristospermum huteri Extremely narrow endemics Genetic diversity Islands Threatened 



We thank M. Soto for his assistance in the laboratory. We also thank our colleagues X. Manzano and E. Moragues (Conselleria d’Agricultura, Medi Ambient i Territori, Govern de les Illes Balears) for their generous help with the field sampling. This study was subsidized by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science [CGL2007-60475/BOS], a BRD Research Fellowship (Universitat de Barcelona) awarded to M.C. Martinell, and a postdoctoral ‘JAE-Doc’ fellowship (CSIC) awarded to Jordi López-Pujol.

Supplementary material

606_2012_732_MOESM1_ESM.doc (30 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 30 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jordi López-Pujol
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • M. Carmen Martinell
    • 1
  • Sergi Massó
    • 1
  • Cèsar Blanché
    • 1
  • Llorenç Sáez
    • 3
  1. 1.BioC-GReB, Laboratori de Botànica, Facultat de FarmàciaUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.BioC-GReBBotanic Institute of Barcelona (IBB-CSIC-ICUB)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Unitat de Botànica, Facultat de BiociènciesUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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