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04.11.2016 | Original Paper | Ausgabe 2/2017

Biodiversity and Conservation 2/2017

Conservation unit allows assessing vulnerability and setting conservation priorities for a Mediterranean endemic plant within the context of extreme urbanization

Zeitschrift:
Biodiversity and Conservation > Ausgabe 2/2017
Autoren:
Marine Pouget, Alex Baumel, Katia Diadema, Frédéric Médail
Wichtige Hinweise
Communicated by Daniel Sanchez Mata.
This article belongs to the Topical Collection: Urban biodiversity.

Abstract

Current biodiversity patterns are a temporary state in a continuum of ecological and evolutionary changes. Conservation policies must incorporate this dynamic to ensure the long-term conservation of biodiversity which is particularly challenging in a context of extreme urbanization. An original approach, rarely used for plant conservation, is to define conservation units to set conservation priorities within species by combining ecological and evolutionary divergences. In the Maritime Alps (southern France), the ecological and evolutionary divergences between the populations of Acis nicaeensis has allowed us the determination of conservation units of this endemic plant threatened by severe urbanization and land-use changes. Phylogeographical data (cpDNA haplotype) were considered as a proxy for evolutionary legacy, and ecological data (multivariate analysis of habitat) were used as a proxy for ecological distinctiveness. Our goal was to explore the potential of this approach to assess vulnerability and set conservation priorities for narrow endemic species in the context of conflict between biodiversity and human activities. The results highlight five different conservation units within A. nicaeensis distribution. Genetic and ecological divergences are present at fine-scale. This pattern is highly endangered by urbanisation. This study highlights the vulnerability of conservation units near the coast whose originality and restricted distribution call for rapid conservation management to avoid the loss of species evolutionary and ecological distinctiveness.

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