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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: CONSERVATION, CHARACTERIZATION, AND GENETIC IMPROVEMENT OF SUBTROPICAL AND TROPICAL ORNAMENTAL GERMPLASM Title: Sweet drinks are made of this: Conservation genetics of an endemic palm species from the Dominican Republic

Authors
item Namoff, Sandra -
item Veloz, Alberto -
item Jimenez, Francisco -
item Rodriguez-Pena, Rosa -
item Peguero, Brigido -
item Lewis, Carl -
item Moynihan, Jeremy -
item Abdo, Melissa -
item Maunder, Mike -
item Meerow, Alan
item Von Wettberg, Eric -
item Francisco-Ortega, Javier -

Submitted to: Journal of Heredity
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 28, 2010
Publication Date: December 15, 2010
Citation: Namoff, S., Veloz, A., Jimenez, F., Rodriguez-Pena, R.A., Peguero, B., Lewis, C., Moynihan, J., Abdo, M., Maunder, M., Meerow, A.W., Von Wettberg, E., Francisco-Ortega, J. 2010. Sweet drinks are made of this: Conservation genetics of an endemic palm species from the Dominican Republic. Journal of Heredity. 102:1-10.

Interpretive Summary: Pseudophoenix ekmanii is a threatened palm species restricted to the Parque Nacional of Jaragua in the southernmost region of Hispaniola. Sap from individual trees is commonly extracted to make a local drink; once they are tapped the plant usually dies. Additionally, adult plants are harvested for the nursery trade, and are also pulled down by poachers hunting the Hispaniolan parrot. We used seven DNA microsatellite markers to assist land managers in developing conservation strategies for this palm. We sampled four populations along the known distribution range of this species (three populations from the mainland and one from the offshore small island of Isla Beata). We found strong evidence for genetic drift, inbreeding, and limited gene-flow. Data revealed that patterns of population genetic variation follow a south-north gradient. Clustering analyses based on genetic distance showed two groups that match a north-south split. The population from Isla Beata had the lowest levels of genetic diversity and was the only one in which we detected identical genotypes between individuals. We propose that each population should be considered as a separate management unit for conservation. Our demographic studies suggest that this species should not have the current IUCN conservation category of Critically Endangered and should be considered as Vulnerable.

Technical Abstract: Pseudophoenix ekmanii is a threatened palm species restricted to the Parque Nacional of Jaragua in the southernmost region of Hispaniola. Sap from individual trees is commonly extracted to make a local drink; once they are tapped the plant usually dies. Additionally, adult plants are harvested for the nursery trade, and are also pulled down by poachers hunting the endemic Hispaniolan parrot. We used seven DNA microsatellite markers to assist land managers in developing conservation strategies for this palm. We sampled four populations along the known distribution range of this species (three populations from the mainland and one from the offshore small island of Isla Beata). We found strong evidence for genetic drift, inbreeding, and limited gene-flow (i.e., all pairwise FST values were significantly higher than zero, all populations had at least four loci that were not in Hardy Weinberg Equilibrium, at least nine loci-pairs were in Linkage Disequilibrium, and had large positive FIS values). Data support an isolation-by-distance model, and revealed that patterns of population genetic variation follow a south-north gradient. Clustering analyses based on genetic distances and Bayesian analyses showed two groups that match a north-south split. The population from Isla Beata had the lowest levels of genetic diversity and was the only one in which we detected identical genotypes between individuals. We propose that each population should be considered as a separate management unit for conservation. These four units were supported by one of the Bayesian clustering analyses. Our demographic studies suggest that this species should not have the current IUCN conservation category of Critically Endangered and should be considered as Vulnerable.

Last Modified: 12/20/2014
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