Microsatellite analysis of demographic genetic structure in fragmented populations of the tropical tree Symphonia globulifera


P. R. Aldrich


We developed genetic markers for three microsatellite loci in the tropical tree Symphonia globulifera and used them to examine the demographic genetic consequences of forest fragmentation. High levels of genetic variation were revealed in samples of adults, saplings, and seedlings. The more-variable loci exhibited less stability in allelic composition across sites and stages. The number of alleles per hectare (ha) of forest was similar when continuous forest plots were compared to plots from fragmented forest for all three stages. This pattern also held for the number of unique multilocus adult and sapling genotypes, but the number of unique seedling genotypes per ha of fragmented forest greatly exceeded expectations based on continuous forest data, probably due to the concentration of seeds into remnant forest patches by foraging bats. Significant inbreeding and genetic differentiation were most often associated with the fragmented forest and the seedlings. Finally, principal component analysis reaffirmed that a bottleneck, acting in concert with pre-existing genetic structure in the adults, had led to enhanced and rapid divergence in the seedlings following deforestation, a result that is of central interest for landscape management.