Plant regeneration of endemic and threatened species in the Balearic Islands
The objectives of this research line are: (1) to evaluate the structure and dynamics of threatened or endangered plant populations and (2) to determine the relative importance of biotic factors (pollination, herbivory and seed dispersal) and abiotic factors (mainly water stress) on their risk of extinction.
The study species that we have examined in depth in our group are: Rhamnus ludovici-salvatoris (comparing it with the widespread Rhamnus alaternus), Thymelaea velutina, Paeonia cambessedesii, Buxus balearica, Cneorum tricoccon, and Daphne rodriguezii (comparing it with the widespread Daphne gnidium). C. tricoccon and D. rodriguezzi represent good examples of mutualistic disruptions caused by the disappearance of their main seed disperser, the endemic lizard Podarcis lilfordi (Lacertidae) from the larger Balearic Islands (Mallorca and Menorca). Such disruptions occurred after the introduction of several species of predators since man arrived into these islands, with important demographic consequences, both for C. tricoccon (here) and for D. rodriguezii (here), as well as genetic consequences; specifically, we have detected changes in genetic variability and degree of isolation of the remaining populations of the endemic shrub D. rodriguezii (here) and in those of the shrub C. tricoccon in the Western Mediterranean area (currently preparing manuscript!).
Currently, we are investigating the reproductive ecology of the Mallorcan endemic Viola jaubertiana, comparing different populations found at an altitudinal gradient. Our aim is to assess the conservation status of such populations and identify the major threats for this species. Violets are species tipically found in high mountains and may be highgly vulnerable to changes in these type of ecosystems. Jaume Seguí (PhD thesis' work) is comparing this violet with another violet endemic from Tenerife (Canary Islands), V. cheiranthifolia, which lives up to 3700 m a.s.l., and also with three other violets from the Andes. Soon he'll have his first papers on this!