Effect of latitudinal gradient and impact of logging on genetic diversity of Cedrela lilloi along the Argentine Yungas Rainforest


  • Funded by the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) of Argentina (PNFOR4233, PNFOR44331, and AEBIO1432 projects).


Maria V. Inza, INTA Castelar - CNIA. N Repetto y De los Reseros s.n. Hurlingham, CP 1686, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Tel: 54-11-4621-1819; Fax: 54-11-4621-6903; E-mail: vinza@cnia.inta.gov.ar


Cedrela lilloi C. DC. (cedro coya, Meliaceae), an important south American timber species, has been historically overexploited through selective logging in Argentine Yungas Rainforest. Management and conservation programs of the species require knowledge of its genetic variation patterns; however, no information is available. Molecular genetic variability of the species was characterized to identify high-priority populations for conservation and domestication purposes. Fourteen native populations (160 individuals) along a latitudinal gradient and with different logging's intensities were assessed by 293 polymorphic AFLP (amplified fragment length polymorphism) markers. Genetic diversity was low (Ht = 0.135), according to marginal location of the species in Argentina. Most of the diversity was distributed within populations (87%). Northern populations showed significant higher genetic diversity (R2= 0.69) that agreed with latitudinal pattern of distribution of taxonomic diversity in the Yungas. Three clusters were identified by Bayesian analysis in correspondence with northern, central, and southern Yungas. An analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) revealed significant genetic differences among latitudinal clusters even when logging (ΦRT = 0.07) and unlogging populations (ΦPT = 0.10) were separately analyzed. Loss of genetic diversity with increasing logging intensity was observed between neighboring populations with different disturbance (ΦPT = 0.03–0.10). Bottlenecks in disturbed populations are suggested as the main cause. Our results emphasize both: the necessity of maintaining the genetic diversity in protected areas that appear as possible long-term refuges of the species; and to rescue for the national system of protected areas some high genetic diversity populations that are on private fields.