, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 28-39
Date: 27 Mar 2010

Geographic Influence on Genetic Structure in the Widespread Neotropical Tree Simarouba amara (Simaroubaceae)

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This study aimed to assess the population genetic structure of a widespread Neotropical tree species, Simarouba amara, at local, regional and continental spatial scales. We used five microsatellite loci to examine genetic variation in 14 natural populations (N = 478 individuals) of this vertebrate-dispersed rain forest tree species in Panama, Ecuador, and French Guiana. Estimates of genetic differentiation (F st and R st) were significant among all but one population pair and global differentiation was moderate (F st = 0.25, R st = 0.33) with 94% of genetic variation ascribed to differences among three main geographic regions (Central America, Western Ecuador, Amazon basin). There was no evidence of isolation by distance within regions. Allele-size mutations contributed significantly (R ST > F ST) to the divergences between cis- and trans-Andean populations, highlighting the role of the northern Andean cordilleras as an important geographic barrier for this species.

Communicated by: Ramesh K. Aggarwal
Britta D. Hardesty and Christopher W. Dick contributed equally to analysis and writing