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Disentangling species delineation and guiding conservation of endangered magnolias in Veracruz, Mexico

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

The Mexican state of Veracruz has suffered very high deforestation rates in the last few decades, and despite the establishment of protected areas and conservation projects, primary forest is now mainly persisting in mostly small, scattered, fragmented remnants. New species of Magnolia section Talauma in this state have been described with little to no reference to the already existing ones, potentially resulting in over-splitting, obscuring their taxonomic delineation and conservation status, and consequently conservation programs. To study the conservation units and their genetic diversity, we here employ 15 microsatellite markers on a highly representative sampling of 254 individuals of what are presumed to be five Magnolia species. The results support at least three species and maximum five main conservation units. We propose downgrading the latter to four, given morphological, ecological, demographical, and geographical considerations. Two out of the three sympatrically occurring species in the rainforest in the Los Tuxtlas volcanic area have weak genetic evidence to be considered separate species. Similarly, the individuals in the Sierra de Zongolica in central Veracruz, who bear a very high morphological and genetic similarity to Magnolia mexicana, have weak genetic evidence to be recognised as a separate species. Nonetheless, the individuals could be identified as Magnolia decastroi based on morphology, and further research including the full range of this species is recommended.
ISSN: 2223-7747
Issue: 4
Volume: 10
Publication year:2021