Pollen dispersal and genetic structure of the tropical tree Dipteryx panamensis in a fragmented Costa Rican landscape


Thor R. Hanson, Fax: 208-885-6226; E-mail: thor@rockisland.com


In the face of widespread deforestation, the conservation of rainforest trees relies increasingly on their ability to maintain reproductive processes in fragmented landscapes. Here, we analysed nine microsatellite loci for 218 adults and 325 progeny of the tree Dipteryx panamensis in Costa Rica. Pollen dispersal distances, genetic diversity, genetic structure and spatial autocorrelation were determined for populations in four habitats: continuous forest, forest fragments, pastures adjacent to fragments and isolated pastures. We predicted longer but less frequent pollen movements among increasingly isolated trees. This pattern would lead to lower outcrossing rates for pasture trees, as well as lower genetic diversity and increased structure and spatial autocorrelation among their progeny. Results generally followed these expectations, with the shortest pollen dispersal among continuous forest trees (240 m), moderate distances for fragment (343 m) and adjacent pasture (317 m) populations, and distances of up to 2.3 km in isolated pastures (mean: 557 m). Variance around pollen dispersal estimates also increased with fragmentation, suggesting altered pollination conditions. Outcrossing rates were lower for pasture trees and we found greater spatial autocorrelation and genetic structure among their progeny, as well as a trend towards lower heterozygosity. Paternal reproductive dominance, the pollen contributions from individual fathers, did not vary among habitats, but we did document asymmetric pollen flow between pasture and adjacent fragment populations. We conclude that long-distance pollen dispersal helps maintain gene flow for D. panamensis in this fragmented landscape, but pasture and isolated pasture populations are still at risk of long-term genetic erosion.