Landscape genetics reveals inbreeding and genetic bottlenecks in the extremely rare short-globose cacti Mammillaria pectinifera (Cactaceae) as a result of habitat fragmentation

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Abstract

Mammillaria pectinifera is an endemic, short-globose cactus species, included in the IUCN list as a threatened species with only 18 remaining populations in the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley in central Mexico. We evaluated the population genetic diversity and structure, connectivity, recent bottlenecks and population size, using nuclear microsatellites. M. pectinifera showed high genetic diversity but some evidence of heterozygote deficiency (F IS ), recent bottlenecks in some populations and reductions in population size. Also, we found low population genetic differentiation and high values of connectivity for M. pectinifera, as the result of historical events of gene flow through pollen and seed dispersal. M. pectinifera occurs in sites with some degree of disturbance leading to the isolation of its populations and decreasing the levels of gene flow among them. Excessive deforestation also changes the original vegetation damaging the natural habitats. This species will become extinct if it is not properly preserved. Furthermore, this species has some ecological features that make them more vulnerable to disturbance such as a very low growth rates and long life cycles. We suggest in situ conservation to prevent the decrease of population sizes and loss of genetic diversity in the natural protected areas such as the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve. In addition, a long-term ex situ conservation program is need to construct seed banks, and optimize seed germination and plant establishment protocols that restore disturbed habitats. Furthermore, creating a supply of living plants for trade is critical to avoid further extraction of plants from nature.

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Maya-García, R., Arizaga, S., Cuevas-Reyes, P., Peñaloza-Ramírez, J. M., Ramírez, V. R., & Oyama, K. (2017). Landscape genetics reveals inbreeding and genetic bottlenecks in the extremely rare short-globose cacti Mammillaria pectinifera (Cactaceae) as a result of habitat fragmentation. Plant Diversity, 39(1), 13–19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pld.2016.09.005

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