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      Conservation biology of the last Italian population of Cistus laurifolius (Cistaceae): demographic structure, reproductive success and population genetics

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          Abstract

          Isolated populations are usually subject to low fitness and reduced genetic diversity, both of which may negatively affect their survival and adaptive potential. Hence, these issues cannot be neglected when planning conservation actions for isolated populations. The Italian population of Cistus laurifolius subsp. laurifolius is extremely isolated. Furthermore, it is affected by fragmentation, being constituted by a single larger subpopulation, surrounded by three much smaller subpopulations, a few hundred metres to a few kilometres apart. In order to fill gaps in demographic and genetic knowledge concerning the Italian population, its area of occupancy, size, age-stage structure and phenology were investigated and its reproductive fitness, pollination strategies and genetic variability were assessed. The population was inferred as fully xenogamous and showed good reproductive performance. Despite this, its genetic variability was low and it showed relatively high levels of inbreeding depression (Fis), seemingly not affected by sub-population size. These results suggest that the Italian population recently suffered fragmentation and reduction in size. The low genetic diversity observed could be explained by the high percentage of mature individuals found in the population, possibly established before fragmentation. For these reasons, the Italian population of C. laurifolius subsp. laurifolius should be monitored and concrete actions aimed at its conservation planned.

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          Most cited references 56

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          Introduction to Conservation Genetics

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            Comparison of different nuclear DNA markers for estimating intraspecific genetic diversity in plants.

             Hilde Nybom (2004)
            A compilation was made of 307 studies using nuclear DNA markers for evaluating among- and within-population diversity in wild angiosperms and gymnosperms. Estimates derived by the dominantly inherited markers (RAPD, AFLP, ISSR) are very similar and may be directly comparable. STMS analysis yields almost three times higher values for within-population diversity whereas among-population diversity estimates are similar to those derived by the dominantly inherited markers. Number of sampled plants per population and number of scored microsatellite DNA alleles are correlated with some of the population genetics parameters. In addition, maximum geographical distance between sampled populations has a strong positive effect on among-population diversity. As previously verified with allozyme data, RAPD- and STMS-based analyses show that long-lived, outcrossing, late successional taxa retain most of their genetic variability within populations. By contrast, annual, selfing and/or early successional taxa allocate most of the genetic variability among populations. Estimates for among- and within-population diversity, respectively, were negatively correlated. The only major discrepancy between allozymes and STMS on the one hand, and RAPD on the other hand, concerns geographical range; within-population diversity was strongly affected when the former methods were used but not so in the RAPD-based studies. Direct comparisons between the different methods, when applied to the same plant material, indicate large similarities between the dominant markers and somewhat lower similarity with the STMS-based data, presumably due to insufficient number of analysed microsatellite DNA loci in many studies.
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              POLLEN LIMITATION OF PLANT REPRODUCTION: ECOLOGICAL AND EVOLUTIONARY CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Conservation
                NC
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-3301
                1314-6947
                October 20 2017
                October 20 2017
                : 22
                : 169-190
                Article
                10.3897/natureconservation.22.19809
                © 2017

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