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Hybridization as a threat in climate relict Nuphar pumila (Nymphaeaceae)
- Arrigo, Nils, Bétrisey, Sébastien, Graf, Larissa, Bilat, Julia, Gerber, Emanuel, Kozlowski, Gregor
- Biodiversity and conservation 2016 v.25 no.10 pp. 1863-1877
- Bayesian theory, Nuphar lutea, biogeography, climate, extinction, gene flow, genetic markers, hybrids, introgression, models, risk, Europe
- Field studies and conceptual work on hybridization-mediated extinction risk in climate relicts are extremely rare. Nuphar pumila (Nymphaeaceae) is one of the most emblematic climate relicts in Europe with few isolated populations in the Alpine arc. The extent of introgression with related lowland and generalist species Nuphar lutea has never been studied using molecular methods. All biogeographical regions where N. pumila naturally occurs in the neighbourhood of the Alpine arc were sampled and studied using nuclear microsatellite markers. Furthermore, we used forward-in-time simulations and Approximate Bayesian Computation to check whether an introgression scenario fits with the observed admixture patterns and estimated the demographic parameters associated with this process. Our study confirms ongoing hybridization between N. pumila and N. lutea and validates it by the use of population models. More than 40 % of investigated N. pumila individuals were admixed and hybrids were found in over 60 % of studied populations. The introgression is bidirectional and is most likely a result of very recent gene flow. Our work provides strong evidence for rapid extinction risk and demographic swamping between specialized climatic relicts and closely related generalists. The remaining pure populations of N. pumila are rare in the Alpine arc and deserve high conservation priority.