Erodium maritimum (Geraniaceae), a species with an uneven and fragmented distribution along the Western Mediterranean and European Atlantic coasts, has a weak genetic structure

Authors


  • Editor
    F. Roux

M. L. Alarcón, Institut Botànic de Barcelona (IBB–CSIC–ICUB), Passeig del Migdia s. n., Parc de Montjuïc, E-08038 Barcelona, Spain.
E-mail: malarcon@ibb.csic.es

Abstract

Erodium maritimum L. is an annual species presenting heterogeneous, sometimes very small, and distant populations, distributed along a discontinuous coastal strip of the European Atlantic and the central and western Mediterranean basin. The aim of this study is to investigate genetic variation and geographic structure changes across its large distribution. Fourteen populations of E. maritimum were studied using AFLP fingerprints, together with their population sizes, reproductive systems and flower visitors. AFLP markers revealed the genetic structure of the species to be weak. Many individuals from one population clustered together with those of other populations, showing a high degree of genetic admixture. Despite having a self-compatible reproductive system, populations (especially the largest ones) showed high levels of genetic polymorphism, and the majority of genetic variation was contained within populations. The low genetic structure suggests high levels of gene flow, which might be explained through the dispersability of the species’ fruits. Finally, recommendations are provided for management strategies to facilitate the conservation of this endangered species.

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