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Species identity in the Solanum bahamense species group (Solanaceae, Solanum subgenus Leptostemonum)

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The Solanum bahamense L. species group is a small monophyletic group of spiny solanums (Solanum subg. Leptostemonum) restricted to the West Indies. The group has been variously recognised as including one to five species, and one of these (Solanum ensifolium Dunal, as S. drymophilum O.E. Schulz) is listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. We here use a combination of morphological characters and plastid sequence data to assess diversity within the group and to explore patterns of differentiation across the archipelago. We recognise three species in the group: S. polyacanthos Lam., endemic to Hispaniola, S. ensifolium Dunal, endemic to Puerto Rico, and S. bahamense L., widespread across the region from the Florida Keys to Grenada, but absent from Hispaniola. Within S. bahamense, three geographically distinct lineages can be distinguished. Maximal genetic diversity in the group occurs in the centre of the archipelago, on Hispaniola and Puerto Rico (including the Virgin Islands). A taxonomic treatment of the three species is provided, with a key, complete typification for all synonyms and exsiccatae (in an Appendix). We recognise the distinctness of S. ensifolium and our data provide support for its inclusion in the Endangered Species Act and its Red List status as critically endangered.
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Keywords: BIOGEOGRAPHY; CARIBBEAN; CONSERVATION STATUS; ENDANGERED SPECIES; ENDEMIC; SOLANACEAE; SOLANUM; WEST INDIES

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Botany, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, U.K.

Publication date: 2010-02-01

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