Annals of Botany

On the origins of Balkan endemics

The Balkan Peninsula is one of the most important centres of plant diversity in Europe. Yet its flora is still largely unexplored and calls for further investigations. Olšavská et al. focus on Balkan taxa of the Cyanus napulifer group (Asteraceae), comprising a number of local endemics.

Neighbour-net diagram based on AFLP profiles of 460 Cyanus
Neighbour-net diagram based on AFLP profiles of 460 Cyanus individuals. The numbers indicate bootstrap probabilities >50 % obtained by neighbour-joining tree analysis of the same dataset. The symbols and colours are same as in Fig. 1; symbols with thick outlines are used for individuals from populations with presumably hybrid origin.

Using variation genetic markers, relative DNA content and multivariate morphometric analysis. The study demonstrates that the rapid and relatively recent diversification of the group was triggered by spatio-temporal isolation on the topographically complex Balkan Peninsula. Adaptive radiation, accompanied in some cases by long-term isolation and hybridization, also contributed to the formation of this species complex and its mosaic pattern.

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