Endemic Plants

Viola cazorlensis

Endemic species or taxa are those whose distribution range restricted to a certain geographic area. In our study we considered endemic taxa those restricted to SE Spain, California and Yucatán, respectively, and non-endemic those that represented wider geographic ranges. In serpentine and dolomite communities many endemic species were also restricted to these specific soil types.

Detailed experimental studies to ascertain reproductive biology of endemic species could be essencial for conservation purposes because endemics frequently occur in small or sparse populations as well as in fragmented or specialized habitats, characteristics that are expected to amplify the risk of pollen limitation and pollination failure. Thus, on each region we selected 3-5 endemic species for which we experementally tested for self-compatibility and estimated natural pollination and reproductive success.

Regarding mating system, recent comparative analyses suggested endemic species tend evolve self-compatibility (read more) , and thus endemic species could be suitable model system to analysing the evolution of mating system. Self-compatibility can be advantageous when pollinators and/or mates are scarce, although inbreeding depression in endemic and non-endemic species. Table 1 shows self-compatibility classification of study plants.

Interestingly, in Erodium cazorlanum Heywood (Geraniaceae), an endemic restricted to a few dolomitic outcrops in the Baetic Ranges, we found individual variability in the relative succes of self and cross hand-pollinations, and strong inbreeding depression under greenhouse conditions. The consequences of individual variation in self-compatibility deserve further investigation in the field.