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Demographic and dendrochronological evidence reveals highly endangered status of a paleoendemic woody mallow from the Canary Islands

Abstract

Navaea phoenicea (Malvaceae) is a flagship shrub species endemic to Tenerife Island in the Canary archipelago and is included as Endangered on the Spanish Red List. We conducted a comprehensive census and monitored the structure of eight accessible populations over 10 years to develop a stage-based demographic matrix model and performed deterministic and stochastic projections. To determine the longevity of individuals, we conducted a dendrochronological study on ten collected dry samples. The censuses showed a clear, gradual decline, and the total population was around half that in previous studies. The yearly finite growth rate was strongly correlated with annual rainfall. Survival rates of seedlings were low, and high elasticity values were allocated to the larger, reproductive individuals, which showed the highest survival rates. The age of the oldest individual was 32 years, while the average age inferred from dendrochronology was 18 years. These results point to a lower longevity of individuals with respect to the values calculated by demographic models. The findings of this study suggest the importance of the preservation of reproductive individuals and their habitat, as well as the need to re-adopt legal measures of greater protection for the species.

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Acknowledgements

This research was funded by the CSIC Intramural project 2006-3-OI-028, Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation research project CGL2007-66516 to JFA and a personal grant FPI 0266/2005 from Madrid Regional Government (European Social Fund) to AGFdC. We thank Mar Génova, for her help in the dendrochronological field work. We also thank Cabildo de Tenerife and Gobierno de Canarias for permissions for sampling and prospection. The Agencia Estatal de Meteorología (AEMET) kindly provided meteorological data. The authors are grateful to Txema Iriondo for his comments on this paper.

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Correspondence to Alejandro G. Fernández de Castro.

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Fernández de Castro, A., Rozas, V., Fuertes-Aguilar, J. et al. Demographic and dendrochronological evidence reveals highly endangered status of a paleoendemic woody mallow from the Canary Islands. Biodivers Conserv 29, 469–485 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-019-01894-6

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Keywords

  • Canary Islands
  • Macaronesian bird-flower element
  • Matrix modelling
  • Lavatera
  • Navaea phoenicea
  • Malvaceae
  • Stochastic models