• assignment methods;
  • forest history;
  • Gabon;
  • spatial genetic structure;
  • tropical tree


Recent methodological advances permit refined inferences of evolutionary processes from the fine-scale spatial genetic structure of plant populations. In this issue of Molecular Ecology, Born et al. (2008) exploit the full power of these methods by examining effects of ancient and recent landscape histories in an African rainforest tree species. The authors first detected admixture of distinct gene pools that may have formed in Pleistocene forest refuges. Then, comparing across six study populations in Gabon, the authors found similar patterns of fine-scale spatial genetic structure despite natural and anthropogenic variation in population density. The latter results suggest that enhanced gene dispersal may compensate for low population densities in fragmented landscapes.