• biodiversity hotspots;
  • Caribbean Basin;
  • conservation genetics;
  • habitat fragmentation;
  • tropical islands


Ipomoea microdactyla Griseb. (Convolvulaceae) is restricted to the Bahamian archipelago, Cuba, and southeastern Florida. The species is listed as a state endangered species in Florida, where it is mostly restricted to the hyperfragmented pine rockland of Miami-Dade County. Using seven DNA microsatellite loci, we assessed levels of genetic diversity for 12 populations of this species from Andros Island in the Bahamas (six sites), Cuba (one site), and Florida (five sites). We found significantly greater mean numbers of alleles, and higher mean values for both observed and expected heterozygosity in populations from the continuous forest on Andros than those from the habitat fragments in Florida. It is unknown if these patterns of genetic diversity in the Florida populations are the result of habitat fragmentation or founder effects. The population from Cuba exhibited relatively high levels of genetic variation, suggesting that this island is a major center of diversity and dispersal for this species. It appears that hybrid introgression for I. carolina alleles within I. microdactyla individuals occurred at a single site on Andros Island. Overall, the mean inbreeding coefficient value was 0.089, suggesting low levels of inbreeding. The highest inbreeding coefficient values were mostly recorded in Florida. Two groups were revealed, one containing the populations from Florida, and the second one encompassing those from the Bahamas and Cuba. Our results highlight the negative genetic consequences of habitat fragmentation and support initiatives recently established to establish corridors to connect the remnants of the pine forest of the Miami-Dade County.