Smithsonian Trop Res Inst, Panama City - Panama
Total Affiliations: 4
FRONTIERS IN PLANT SCIENCE;
FEB 12 2021.
Web of Science Citations:
Seed dispersal is crucial to gene flow among plant populations. Although the effects of geographic distance and barriers to gene flow are well studied in many systems, it is unclear how seed dispersal mediates gene flow in conjunction with interacting effects of geographic distance and barriers. To test whether distinct seed dispersal modes (i.e., hydrochory, anemochory, and zoochory) have a consistent effect on the level of genetic connectivity (i.e., gene flow) among populations of riverine plant species, we used unlinked single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for eight co-distributed plant species sampled across the Rio Branco, a putative biogeographic barrier in the Amazon basin. We found that animal-dispersed plant species exhibited higher levels of genetic diversity and lack of inbreeding as a result of the stronger genetic connectivity than plant species whose seeds are dispersed by water or wind. Interestingly, our results also indicated that the Rio Branco facilitates gene dispersal for all plant species analyzed, irrespective of their mode of dispersal. Even at a small spatial scale, our findings suggest that ecology rather than geography play a key role in shaping the evolutionary history of plants in the Amazon basin. These results may help improve conservation and management policies in Amazonian riparian forests, where degradation and deforestation rates are high. (AU)