Is the insular endemic Psidium socorrense (Myrtaceae) at risk of extinction through hybridization?
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Natural hybridization between an insular endemic species and a widely distributed congener may endanger the endemic through genetic assimilation or outbreeding depression. Furthermore, hybrids can exhibit complex morphological variation, causing taxonomic problems in the identification of the involved taxa. In this work, we used a combination of leaf morphological and molecular markers (RAPD) to establish the differentiation between Psidium sp. aff. sartorianum and the insular endemic P. socorrense. It was also determined if hybridization between these taxa occurs in the southern slope of Isla Socorro, Mexico. Plant collection was carried along an altitudinal gradient (100–800 m). We collected eight populations separated 100 m a.s.l. apart from each other; 25 individuals were collected per population. Psidium socorrense and P. sp. aff. sartorianum differed significantly in all but two morphological characters measured. Also, a high number of diagnostic RAPD markers were found for each taxon. These results suggest that two Psidium species occur at Isla Socorro. Furthermore, both morphological and RAPD markers revealed a hybrid zone located in the southern slope of Isla Socorro (400–700 m a.s.l.) with an asymmetrical pattern of gene flow towards P. socorrense. We suggest that the disturbance caused by the sheep population in the mixed stand favors the establishment of hybrids. We further discuss whether hybridization represents a threat to the insular endemic P. socorrense.
KeywordsDisturbance Genetic assimilation Insular endemic species Morphology Psidium RAPD
We thank Maribel Paniagua Ibañez, Leonardo Beltrán, Paulette Arellano Vignettes, Guadalupe Rangel Altamirano, L. Márquez Valdemar, and Elgar Castillo Mendoza for technical assistance. We also thank Mauricio Mora Jarvio for his field assistance and Ramiro Cruz-Durán for providing excellent Psidium illustrations.
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