Pervasive migration across rainforest and sandy coastal plain Aechmea nudicaulis (Bromeliaceae) populations despite contrasting environmental conditions

José Eduardo Meireles, Paul S. Manos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Understanding the colonization of extreme marginal habitats and the relative roles of space and environment in maintaining peripheral populations remains challenging. Here, we leverage a system of pairs of rainforest and sandy coastal plain communities that allow us to decouple spatial and environmental effects in the population structure and migration rates of the bromeliad Aechmea nudicaulis. Structure and gene flow between populations were estimated from Bayesian clustering and coalescent-based migration models applied to chloroplast sequence and nuclear microsatellite data. Contrary to our initial expectation, the sharp environmental gradient between rainforest and sandy plains does not seem to have affected the colonization and migration dynamics in A. nudicaulis. Our analyses uncover pervasive gene flow between neighbouring habitats in both chloroplast and nuclear data despite the striking differences in environmental conditions. This result is consistent with a scenario of repeated colonization of the sandy coastal plains from forest populations through seed dispersal, as well as the maintenance of gene flow between habitats through pollination. We also recovered a broad north/south population structure that has been found in other Atlantic rainforest groups and possibly reflects older phylogeographic dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1261-1272
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular ecology
Volume27
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Keywords

  • environmental gradient
  • migration
  • phylogeography
  • population genetics—empirical

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