Rare plant species have extremely narrow distributions that can be reduced to a single or few populations. The rare long-lived plant Kosteletzkya pentacarpos is one such species because only two extant localities are known in the western Mediterranean. In this study, we analyse the population dynamics over nine years of the only population known in north-east Spain, which is located at the Llobregat delta (Barcelona). We collected basic demographic data to build a transition matrix model. We computed population growth rates λ and their confidence intervals for each year of study. We conducted elasticity and variance decomposition analyses to determine the relative importance of vital rates to overall population dynamics. On average, the K. pentacarpos population exhibited an increasing dynamics. Survivorship of adult plants contributed the most to each λ, whereas temporal variance in fecundity and juvenile fate explained the observed variation in λ. Despite the increasing dynamics of K. pentacarpos, important reductions in fecundity resulting from biotic agents and recruitment owing to habitat limitations are constraints for population growth. We conclude that the knowledge generated in this long-term study should be used to create new K. pentacarpos populations at the Llobregat delta in order to minimize the risk of extinction following catastrophic events that are nearly impossible to predict. © 2007 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2007, 153, 455–462.
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