Romeiras, M.M., Monteiro, F., Duarte, M.C., Schaefer, H. & Carine, M. (2015) Patterns of genetic diversity in three plant lineages endemic to the Cape Verde Islands.Aob Plants, 7, plv051. DOI:10.1093/aobpla/plv051 (IF2015 2,079; Q2 Plant Sciences)
Conservation of plant diversity on islands relies on a good knowledge of the taxonomy, distribution and genetic diversity of species. In recent decades, a combination of morphology- and DNA-based approaches have become the standard for investigating island plant lineages and this has led in some cases to the discovery of previously overlooked diversity, including “cryptic species”. The flora of the Cape Verde archipelago in the North Atlantic is currently thought to comprise about 740 vascular plant species, 92 of them endemics. Despite the fact that it is considered relatively well known, there has been a 12% increase in the number of endemics in the last two decades. Relatively few of the Cape Verde plant lineages have been included in genetic studies so far and little is known about patterns of diversification in the archipelago. Here we present an updated list for the endemic Cape Verde flora and analyse diversity patterns for three endemic plant lineages (Cynanchum, Globularia andUmbilicus) based on one nuclear (ITS) and four plastid DNA regions. In all three lineages, we find genetic variation. In Cynanchum, we find two distinct haplotypes with no clear geographical pattern, possibly reflecting different ploidy levels. In Globularia and Umbilicus, differentiation is evident between populations from northern and southern islands. Isolation and drift resulting from the small and fragmented distributions, coupled with the significant distances separating the northern and southern islands could explain this pattern. Overall, our study suggests that the diversity in the endemic vascular flora of Cape Verde is higher than previously thought and further work to characterise the flora is necessary.