Climatic stability and contemporary human impacts affect the genetic diversity and conservation status of a tropical palm in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil
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Understanding how historical and current environmental suitability and human impacts affect the genetic diversity on a large scale is essential to species management planning. However, most studies in conservation genetics are carried out at a local or regional scale and rarely on broad spatial scales such as an entire biome. We evaluated the relative contribution of historical and current environmental suitability, current landscape features and human impacts to explain genetic diversity, allelic richness and inbreeding variation among populations, using Euterpe edulis and the Atlantic forest as the model system. We fitted linear mixed models within a multiple competing hypotheses approach with model selection based on Akaike’s Information Criteria. We showed that overall genetic diversity was lower in sites with absence of large seed dispersers and higher in sites with historically stable climate. Both seedling and adults showed to be negatively influenced by human impact factors; with adults mainly affected by the reduction of forest cover while seedlings by the loss of large seed dispersers. Thus, the current pattern of genetic diversity in E. edulis is the result of historical instability during the mid-Holocene and recent anthropogenic impacts, mainly those that affect important ecological process such as seed dispersal. Thus, an efficient plan for species conservation must account for human impacts and environmental suitability and also assess the genetic diversity of seedlings and adults in fragmented landscapes.
KeywordsEcological niche modeling Defaunation Human impacts Conservation genetics Euterpe edulis Atlantic Forest
This work was supported by the competitive grants from CNPq (Project No. 445353/2014-7) and CAPES (PROCAD Project No. 88881.068425/2014-01) which we gratefully acknowledge. CSC received a CNPq grant (Project No. 401258/2012-2) and a scholarship from Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP, No. 2014/01029-5). LBM receives a fellowship from CAPES Ciências sem Fronteira (Project CSF-PAJT/CAPES No. 88881.030318/2013-01). RGC and MCR have been continuously supported by grants and scholarships from CNPq and CAPES. MCR is funded by FAPESP (Project No. 2013/50421-2).
C.S.Carvalho conceptualized and performed the study, analyzed the data and wrote the paper. M.C.Ribeiro, R.G.Collevatti and L. Ballesteros-Mejia participated in the study design, analyzed the data and contributed to writing the paper. M.C.Côrtes assisted in the data analyses and contributed to writing the paper. A.S.Santos contributed to the study conception and to writing the paper.
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