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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Apr 1;94(7):3471-6.

Centaurea corymbosa, a cliff-dwelling species tottering on the brink of extinction: a demographic and genetic study.

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  • 1Conservatoire Botanique National de Porquerolles, Castel Sainte Claire, Hyères, France.


Centaurea corymbosa (Asteraceae) is endemic to a small area (< or = 3 km2), and < 500 individuals reproduce in any given year. Nevertheless, enzyme polymorphism was found within and among the six local extant populations, the most distant at 2.3 km. Levels of gene flow among populations and seed and pollen dispersal data indicated very low dispersal capacity. Rarity of long distance dispersal events coupled with traits such as prolonged juvenile period, monocarpy, and self-incompatibility precludes the establishment of new populations and thus the evolution toward colonization ability through increased dispersal rate, polycarpy, or self-compatibility. The species thus appears to be trapped on an evolutionary dead-end toward extinction, even though, from a preliminary introduction experiment, we conclude that several nearby unoccupied sites would be suitable for the species.

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