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Endemics and their common congener plant species on an East Mediterranean island: a comparative functional trait approach

ABSTRACT

Abstract Understanding evolution and ecology of endemic plants is of great importance for conservation of those rare and endangered species. Pairwise comparisons of plant functional traits could be an adequate method to get insights in evolutionary and ecological processes. We examined whether morphological traits representing competitive ability and habitat specificity differ between endemics and common plants. Therefore, we performed pairwise comparison analyses of 9 plant functional traits in 36 congeneric pairs of endemics and their common congeners on the East Mediterranean island of Cyprus, i.e., the first such study conducted on a Mediterranean island. We found that endemic species prefer higher elevations and more extreme habitats. Endemics were smaller and they had smaller flowers than their common congeners. Common species had higher chromosome numbers than endemic ones. Endemic and common species showed no significant differences in canopy height, inflorescence height, leaf length and width, and flowering period. Our study showed that the situation on a large oceanic island does not differ from results in mainland research areas.AbstractUnderstanding evolution and ecology of endemic plants is of great importance for conservation of those rare and endangered species. Pairwise comparisons of plant functional traits could be an adequate method to get insights in evolutionary and ecological processes. We examined whether morphological traits representing competitive ability and habitat specificity differ between endemics and common plants. Therefore, we performed pairwise comparison analyses of 9 plant functional traits in 36 congeneric pairs of endemics and their common congeners on the East Mediterranean island of Cyprus, i.e., the first such study conducted on a Mediterranean island. We found that endemic species prefer higher elevations and more extreme habitats. Endemics were smaller and they had smaller flowers than their common congeners. Common species had higher chromosome numbers than endemic ones. Endemic and common species showed no significant differences in canopy height, inflorescence height, leaf length and width, and flowering period. Our study showed that the situation on a large oceanic island does not differ from results in mainland research areas.