Folia Geobotanica

, Volume 48, Issue 4, pp 449–466 | Cite as

Can We Distinguish Plant Species that are Rare and Endangered from Other Plants Using Their Biological Traits?

  • Jarmila GabrielováEmail author
  • Zuzana Münzbergová
  • Oliver Tackenberg
  • Jindřich Chrtek


Understanding the factors responsible for species rarity is crucial for effective species conservation. One possible approach to obtaining information about causes of species rarity is to compare rare and common species. We analyzed the biological and ecological traits of critically endangered (CR) plant species of the Czech Republic. We compared the vegetative, generative and ecological traits of CR species with: i) common closely related species (a form of phylogenetic correction), ii) common closely related species sharing the same habitat (i.e., excluding pairs not sharing the same habitat, because many differences in species traits can be caused by adaptation to a specific habitat type) and iii) all plants of the Czech Republic. Information about species traits was mainly obtained from literature and databases. Comparison with common closely related species showed that CR species are smaller, flower for shorter periods, and have higher proportions of self-compatibility and higher terminal velocities. CR species also differ in their mode of dispersion, and their ecology and distribution. Comparison with species from the same habitat gave similar results. Comparison with the whole flora produced slightly different results, with additional differences in pollination mode and seed mass. The results of all three types of comparison suggest that critically endangered species of the Czech Republic are small, competitively inferior species, with some differences in the generative part of their life cycle, and occur mainly in open, unproductive habitats.


Central Europe Life-history traits Phylogenetically independent contrasts Red List Threatened species 



critically endangered vascular plant species of the Czech Republic


International Union for Conservation of Nature

Plant nomenclature

Kubát et al. (2002) 



We thank A. Bucharová, P. Dostál, V. Hadincová, Z. Hroudová, V. Latzel, J. Knappová, P. Petřík, H. Skálová and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the manuscript. This study was supported by grant VaV 2B06178 and institutional research grants RVO 67985939 and MSMT. JG was supported by 206-08-H049, OT by the DFG (TA 311-3), and BIK-F within the LOEWE-initiative of Hesse’s Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts.

Supplementary material

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ESM 1 (PDF 167 kb)


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Copyright information

© Institute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jarmila Gabrielová
    • 1
    Email author
  • Zuzana Münzbergová
    • 1
    • 2
  • Oliver Tackenberg
    • 3
  • Jindřich Chrtek
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Science, Department of BotanyCharles University in PraguePragueCzech Republic
  2. 2.Institute of BotanyAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicPrůhoniceCzech Republic
  3. 3.Institute of Ecology, Evolution and DiversityGoethe-University FrankfurtFrankfurt am MainGermany

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