Publication details.


Author(s):P. Rodríguez-Rodríguez, A. De Castro, J. Seguí, A. Traveset, P. Sosa
Title:Alpine species in dynamic insular ecosystems through time: Conservation genetics and niche shift estimates of the endemic and vulnerable viola cheiranthifolia
Issue No.:3
Abstract:© The Author(s) 2018. • Background and Aims Alpine oceanic ecosystems are considered amongst the most ephemeral and restricted habitats, with a biota highly vulnerable to climate changes and disturbances. As an example of an alpine insular endemic, the past and future population genetic structure and diversity, and the future distribution of Viola cheiranthifolia (Violaceae), endemic to Tenerife (Canary Islands), were estimated. The main goals were to predict distribution changes of this alpine oceanic plant under climate change, and to assist in actions for its conservation. • Methods To perform population genetic analysis, 14 specific microsatellite markers and algorithms which considered the polyploid condition of V. cheiranthifolia were employed. The niche modelling approach incorporated temperature gradients, topography and snow cover maps. Models were projected into climate change scenarios to assess the extent of the altitudinal shifts of environmental suitability. Finally, simulations were performed to predict whether the environmental suitability loss will affect the genetic diversity of populations. • Key Results Viola cheiranthifolia presents short dispersal capacity, moderate levels of genetic diversity and a clear population genetic structure divided into two main groups (Teide and Las Cañadas Wall), showing signs of recolonization dynamics after volcanic eruptions. Future estimates of the distribution of the study populations also showed that, despite being extremely vulnerable to climate change, the species will not lose all its potential area in the next decades. The simulations to estimate genetic diversity loss show that it is correlated to suitability loss, especially in Las Cañadas Wall. • Conclusions The low dispersal capacity of V. cheiranthifolia, coupled with herbivory pressure, mainly from rabbits, will make its adaptation to future climate conditions in this fragile alpine ecosystem difficult. Conservation actions should be focused on herbivore control, population reinforcement and surveillance of niche shifts, especially in Guajara, which represents the oldest isolated population and a genetic reservoir for the species.

Related staff

  • Anna Traveset Vilagines
  • Related departments

  • Oceanography and Global Change
  • Related research groups

  • Global Change Research