Journal Article

Geographical Structuring of Genetic Diversity Across the Whole Distribution Range of <i>Narcissus longispathus</i>, a Habitat-specialist, Mediterranean Narrow Endemic

Mónica Medrano and Carlos M. Herrera

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 102, issue 2, pages 183-194
Published in print August 2008 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online June 2008 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Geographical Structuring of Genetic Diversity Across the Whole Distribution Range of Narcissus longispathus, a Habitat-specialist, Mediterranean Narrow Endemic

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Background and Aims

High mountain ranges of the Mediterranean Basin harbour a large number of narrowly endemic plants. In this study an investigation is made of the levels and partitioning of genetic diversity in Narcissus longispathus, a narrow endemic of south-eastern Spanish mountains characterized by a naturally fragmented distribution due to extreme specialization on a rare habitat type. By using dense sampling of populations across the species' whole geographical range, genetic structuring at different geographical scales is also examined.


Using horizontal starch-gel electrophoresis, allozyme variability was screened at 19 loci for a total of 858 individuals from 27 populations. The data were analysed by means of standard statistical approaches in order to estimate gene diversity and the genetic structure of the populations.

Key Results Narcissus longispathus

displayed high levels of genetic diversity and extensive diversification among populations. At the species level, the percentage of polymorphic loci was 68 %, with average values of 2·1, 0·11 and 0·14 for the number of alleles per locus, observed heterozygosity and expected heterozygosity, respectively. Southern and more isolated populations tended to have less genetic variability than northern and less-isolated populations. A strong spatial patterning of genetic diversity was found at the various spatial scales. Gene flow/drift equilibrium occurred over distances <4 km. Beyond that distance divergence was relatively more influenced by drift. The populations studied seem to derive from three panmictic units or ‘gene pools’, with levels of admixture being greatest in the central and south-eastern portions of the species' range.


In addition to documenting a case of high genetic diversity in a narrow endemic plant with naturally fragmented populations, the results emphasize the need for dense population sampling and examination of different geographical scales for understanding population genetic structure in habitat specialists restricted to ecological islands.

Keywords: Allozymes; genetic diversity; geographical scale; habitat isolation; Narcissus longispathus; Mediterranean endemism; mountain range; natural fragmented distribution

Journal Article.  7766 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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