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Title

A tale of two forests: ongoing aridification drives population decline and genetic diversity loss at continental scale in Afro-Macaronesian evergreen-forest archipelago endemics

AuthorsMairal, Mario; Caujapé Castells, J. CSIC ORCID; Pellissier, Loïc; Jaén-Molina, Ruth; Álvarez, Nadir; Heuertz, Myriam CSIC ORCID; Sanmartín, Isabel CSIC ORCID
KeywordsIslands
Nuclear microsatellites
Subtropical flora
Decline
Aridification
Extinction
Genetic conservation
Issue Date2018
PublisherOxford University Press
CitationAnnals of Botany 122: 1005- 1017 (2018)
AbstractBackground and Aims Various studies and conservationist reports have warned about the contraction of the last subtropical Afro-Macaronesian forests. These relict vegetation zones have been restricted to a few oceanic and continental islands around the edges of Africa, due to aridification. Previous studies on relict species have generally focused on glacial effects on narrow endemics; however, little is known about the effects of aridification on the fates of previously widespread subtropical lineages. Methods Nuclear microsatellites and ecological niche modelling were used to understand observed patterns of genetic diversity in two emblematic species, widely distributed in these ecosystems: Canarina eminii (a palaeoendemic of the eastern Afromontane forests) and Canarina canariensis (a palaeoendemic of the Canarian laurel forests). The software DIYABC was used to test alternative demographic scenarios and an ensemble method was employed to model potential distributions of the selected plants from the end of the deglaciation to the present. Key Results All the populations assessed experienced a strong and recent population decline, revealing that locally widespread endemisms may also be alarmingly threatened. Conclusions The detected extinction debt, as well as the extinction spiral to which these populations are subjected, demands urgent conservation measures for the unique, biodiversity-rich ecosystems that they inhabit.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcy107
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/248021
DOI10.1093/aob/mcy107
Identifiersdoi: 10.1093/aob/mcy107
issn: 1095-8290
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