Genetic effects of chronic habitat fragmentation revisited: Strong genetic structure in a temperate tree, Taxus baccata (Taxaceae), with great dispersal capability

Marta Dubreuil, Miquel Riba, Santiago C. González-Martínez, Giovanni G. Vendramin, Federico Sebastiani, Maria Mayol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Tree species are thought to be relatively resistant to habitat fragmentation because of their longevity and their aptitude for extensive gene flow, although recent empirical studies have reported negative genetic consequences, in particular after long-term habitat fragmentation in European temperate regions. Yet the response of each species to habitat loss may differ greatly depending on their biological attributes, in particular seed dispersal ability. In this study, we used demographic and molecular data to investigate the genetic consequences of chronic habitat fragmentation in remnant populations of Taxus baccata in the Montseny Mountains, northeast Spain. The age structure of populations revealed demographic bottlenecks and recruitment events associated with exploitation and management practices. We found a strong genetic structure, both at the landscape and within-population levels. We also detected high levels of inbreeding for a strictly outcrossing species. Chronic forest fragmentation resulting from long-term exploitation in the Montseny Mountains seems the most plausible explanation for the strong genetic structure observed. Our results support the view that, contrary to some predictions, tree species are not buffered from the adverse effects of habitat fragmentation, even in the case of species with a high dispersal potential.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-310
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Volume97
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2010

Keywords

  • Forest fragmentation
  • Gene flow
  • Microsatellites
  • Spatial genetic structure
  • Taxaceae
  • Taxus baccata

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