, Volume 103, Issue 1, pp 49-54

Genetic structure in a population of a tropical tree Ocotea tenera (Lauraceae): influence of avian seed dispersal

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Abstract

We studied the influence of avian seed dispersal on the structuring of genetic diversity in a population of a tropical tree, Ocotea tenera (Lauraceae). The seeds of O. tenera are principally dispersed by four, relatively specialized, fruit-eating bird species (emerald toucanets, keel-billed toucans, resplendent quetzals, and three-wattled bellbirds). We found high genetic diversity within the overall population and significant, nonrandom structuring of that diversity among subpopulations. Subpopulations contained members of several sibling groups, and most saplings within subpopulations were shown not to be the progeny of adult trees within the same subpopulation. Our data indicate that O. tenera subpopulations are founded with several seeds from few maternal families, and that this mode of establishment is an important determinant of population genetic architecture.