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Fitosociologia numero 48 (2) S1

pag. 163-169: Population biology and conservation of Mediterranean endemics: studies on the rare Dianthus guliae Janka

D. Gargano

Dipartimento di Ecologia dell’Università della Calabria. Current address: Museo di Storia Naturale della Calabria ed Orto Botanico dell’Università della Calabria, Loc. Polifunzionale, I-87030 Arcavacata di Rende (CS), e-mail: gargano@unical.it

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abstract

The paper provides insights into habitat features, breeding system and sensitivity to inbreeding depression of Dianthus guliae Janka, an endangered carnation endemic to Italian Peninsula. Since its discovery, D. guliae disappeared in various sites of historical occurrence. Consequently, the species currently occurs in a few stands scattered on the Cilento mountains, and in a severely depleted population found in north-eastern Calabria. In order to improve the conservation status of D. guliae, the species was subject to an array of empirical investigations on the possible reasons of its proneness to extinction. Much work was focused on biological traits potentially related to a low persistence ability under adverse demographic contexts. Subsequently to preliminary tests, improved work on reproductive traits confirmed that D. guliae is unable for effective seed production under scarce pollen delivery. Moreover, fitness assessments in crossed and selfed progenies highlighted the plant’s sensitivity to inbreeding depression. The cultivation of selfed and crossed offspring under different regimes (including field conditions) showed that the extent of inbreeding depression increases with environmental harshness. Information on community structure and composition suggest that in Calabria the species is prone to forest recovery and clumping. In absence of conservation measures focused on both habitat and population, it is likely that D. guliae will undergo a further extinction in the southernmost stand.

keywords

breeding system, conservation, endemic, forest recovery, inbreeding depression