Conservation genetics and niche shift estimates of the endemic and vulnerable Viola cheiranthifolia

Alpine oceanic ecosystems are considered amongst the most ephemeral and restricted habitats, with a biota highly vulnerable to climate changes and disturbances. As an example of an alpine insular endemic, Rodríguez-Rodríguez et al. estimated the past and future population genetic structure and diversity, and the future distribution of Viola cheiranthifolia (Violaceae), endemic to Tenerife (Canary Islands). The main goals were to predict distribution changes of this alpine oceanic plant under climate change, and to assist in actions for its conservation.

Viola cheiranthifolia
Viola cheiranthifolia. Hans G. Oberlack / Wikipedia

The low dispersal capacity of V. cheiranthifolia, coupled with herbivory pressure, mainly from rabbits, will make its adaptation to future climate conditions in this fragile alpine ecosystem difficult. Conservation actions should be focused on herbivore control, population reinforcement and surveillance of niche shifts, especially in Guajara, which represents the oldest isolated population and a genetic reservoir for the species.

Reference List

Rodríguez-Rodríguez, P., G. Fernández de Castro, A., Seguí, J., Traveset, A., & Sosa, P. A. (2018). Alpine species in dynamic insular ecosystems through time: conservation genetics and niche shift estimates of the endemic and vulnerable Viola cheiranthifolia. Annals of Botany. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcy185