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Limited seed dispersal shapes fine-scale spatial genetic structure in a Neotropical dioecious large-seeded palm


Escobar, Sebastián (2022), Limited seed dispersal shapes fine-scale spatial genetic structure in a Neotropical dioecious large-seeded palm, Dryad, Dataset,


Seed and pollen dispersal contribute to gene flow and shape the genetic patterns of plants over fine spatial scales. We inferred fine-scale spatial genetic structure (FSGS) and estimated realized dispersal distances in Phytelephas aequatorialis, a Neotropical dioecious large-seeded palm. We aimed to explore how seed and pollen dispersal shape this genetic pattern in a focal population. For this purpose, we genotyped 138 seedlings and 99 adults with 20 newly developed microsatellite markers. We tested if rodent-mediated seed dispersal has a stronger influence than insect-mediated pollen dispersal in shaping FSGS. We also tested if pollen dispersal was influenced by the density of male palms around mother palms in order to further explore this ecological process in large-seeded plants. Rodent-mediated dispersal of these large seeds occurred mostly over short distances (mean 34.76 ± 34.06 m) while pollen dispersal distances were two times higher (mean 67.91 ± 38.29 m). The spatial extent of FSGS up to 35 m and the fact that seed dispersal did not increase the distance at which male alleles disperse suggest that spatially limited seed dispersal is the main factor shaping FSGS and contributes only marginally to gene flow within the population. Pollen dispersal distances depended on the density of male palms, decreasing when individuals show a clumped distribution and increasing when they are scattered. Our results show that limited seed dispersal mediated by rodents shapes FSGS in P. aequatorialis, while more extensive pollen dispersal accounts for a larger contribution to gene flow and may maintain high genetic diversity.


Genotypes obtained through SSR amplification.

Usage Notes

Precise coordinates of the individuals and the population are not provided because the species is considered as near-threatened by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Geographic information can be requested to the corresponding author through email.