Skip to main content Accessibility help

The influence of forest fragmentation on clonal diversity and genetic structure in Heliconia angusta, an endemic understorey herb of the Brazilian Atlantic rain forest

  • Katharina Stein (a1) (a2), Christoph Rosche (a1), Heidi Hirsch (a1), Anke Kindermann (a1), Julia Köhler (a1) and Isabell Hensen (a1)...


Fragmented populations are usually exposed to the negative effects of reduced gene flow, genetic drift and population differentiation. These effects result in the collective loss of genetic variation, thereby reducing the probability of population adaptation to new environmental conditions and increasing the risk of extinction. Forest fragments commonly exhibit suboptimal site conditions, which can result in enhanced clonal reproduction, and a potential reduction in clonal diversity due to increased selfing and inbreeding depression. The clonal diversity, genetic diversity and structure of Heliconia angusta (Heliconiaceae) were assessed using AFLP-markers. We analysed six patches in the continuous forest (Atlantic rain forest, State of Rio de Janeiro) and eight patches (155 leaf samples in total) in five nearby forest fragments (age of oldest fragment: c. 50 y; size range: < 5–100 ha). Clonal diversity (Pd) of patches was slightly, yet significantly, lower in forest fragments compared with continuous forest. Measures of genetic diversity of patches in forest fragments did not differ from those in the continuous forest. A STRUCTURE analysis did not show any clear clustering of patches in the continuous forest and forest fragments. Our results suggest that H. angusta has not yet suffered from the anticipated negative effects of fragmentation.


Corresponding author

1 Corresponding author. Email:


Hide All
AGUILAR, R., QUESADA, M., ASHWORTH, L., HERRERÌAS-DIEGO, Y. & LOBO, J. 2008. Genetic consequences of habitat fragmentation in plant populations: susceptible signals in plant traits and methodological approaches. Molecular Ecology 17:51775188.
AGUIRRE, A. & DIRZO, R. 2008. Effects of fragmentation on pollinator abundance and fruit set of an abundant understory palm in a Mexican tropical forest. Biological Conservation 141:375384.
ARROYO-RODRÍGUEZ, V., AGUIRRE, A., BENÌTEZ-MALVIDO, J. & MANDUJANO, S. 2007. Impact of rainforest fragmentation on the population size of a structurally important palm species: Astrocaryum mexicanum at Los Tuxtlas, México. Biological Conservation 138:198206.
BONIN, A., EHRICH, D. & MANEL, S. 2007. Statistical analysis of amplified fragment length polymorphism data: a toolbox for molecular ecologists and evolutionists. Molecular Ecology 16:37373758.
BRUNA, E. M. 2003. Are plant populations in fragmented habitats recruitment limited? Tests with an Amazonian herb. Ecology 84:932947.
BRUNA, E. M., KRESS, W. J., MARQUES, F. & DA SILVA, O. F. 2004. Heliconia acuminata reproductive success is independent of local floral density. Acta Amazonica 34:467471.
CHAZDON, R. L., HARVEY, C. A., KOMAR, O., GRIFFITH, D. M., FERGUSON, B. C., MARTÌNEZ-RAMOS, M., MORALES, H., NIGH, R., SOTO-PINTO, L., VAN BREUGEL, M. & PHILPOTT, S. M. 2009. Beyond reserves: a research agenda for conserving biodiversity in human-modified tropical landscapes. Biotropica 41:142153.
COART, E., VAN GLABEKE, S., PETIT, R. J., VAN BOCKSTAELE, E. & ROLDÀN-RUIZ, I. 2005. Range wide versus local patterns of genetic diversity in hornbeam (Carpinus betulus). Conservation Genetics 7:115.
DE CASTRO, C. C. & ARAUJO, A. C. 2004. Distyly and sequential pollinators of Psychotria nuda (Rubiaceae) in the Atlantic rainforest, Brazil. Plant Systematics and Evolution 244:131139.
DORKEN, M. E. & ECKERT, C. G. 2001. Severely reduced sexual reproduction in northern populations of a clonal plant, Decodon verticillatus (Lythraceae). Journal of Ecology 89:339350.
DOUHOVNIKOFF, V. & DODD, R. S. 2003. Intra-clonal variation and a similarity threshold for identification of clones: application to Salix exigua using AFLP molecular markers. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 106:13071315.
DOYLE, J. J. & DOYLE, J. L. 1987. A rapid DNA isolation procedure for small quantities of fresh leaf tissue. Phytochemical Bulletin 19:1115.
ECKERT, C. G. 2000. Contributions of autogamy and geitonogamy to self-fertilization in a mass flowering, clonal plant. Ecology 81:532542.
ECKERT, C. G. 2002. The loss of sex in clonal plants. Evolution Ecology 15:501520.
EHRICH, D. 2006. AFLPdat: a collection of R functions for convenient handling of AFLP data. Molecular Ecology Notes 6:603604.
ELLSTRAND, N. C. & ROOSE, M. L. 1987. Patterns of genotypic diversity in clonal plant-species. American Journal of Botany 74:123131.
ERIKSSON, O. 1996. Regional dynamics of plants: a review of evidence for remnant, source-sink and metapopulations. Oikos 77:248258.
ERIKSSON, O. & EHRLEN, J. 2001. Landscape fragmentation and the viability of plant populations. Pp. 157175 in Silvertown, J. & Antonovics, J. (eds.). Integrating ecology and evolution in a spatial context. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.
EVANNO, G., REGNAUT, S. & GOUDET, J. 2005. Detecting the number of clusters of individuals using the software STRUCTURE: a simulation study. Molecular Ecology 14:26112620.
EXCOFFIER, L. & LISCHER, H. E. L. 2010. Arlequin suite ver 35: a new series of programs to perform population genetics analyses under Linux and Windows. Molecular Ecology Resources 10:564567.
FALUSH, D., STEPHENS, M. & PRITCHARD, J. K. 2007. Inference of population structure using multilocus genotype data: dominant markers and null alleles. Molecular Ecology Notes 7:574578.
FIGUEROA-ESQUIVEL, E., PUEBLA-OLIVARES, F., GODÌNEZ-ALVAREZ, H. & NUÑEZ-FARFÀN, J. 2009. Seed dispersal effectiveness by understory birds on Dendropanax arboreus in a fragmented landscape. Biodiversity and Conservation 18:33573365.
FISCHER, J. & LINDENMAYER, D. B. 2007. Landscape modification and habitat fragmentation: a synthesis. Global Ecology and Biogeography 16:265280.
GHAZOUL, J. 2005. Pollen and seed dispersal among dispersed plants. Biological Reviews 80:413443.
GILBERT, K. J., ANDREW, R. L., BOCK, D. G., FRANKLIN, M. T., KANE, N. C., MOORE, J.-S., MOYERS, B. T., RENAUT, S., RENNISON, D. J., VEEN, T. & VINES, T. H. 2012. Recommendations for utilizing and reporting population genetic analyses: the reproducibility of genetic clustering using the program STRUCTURE. Molecular Ecology 21:49254930.
GUIMARÃES SIMÃO, D. & SCATENA, V. L. 2001. Morphology and anatomy in Heliconia angusta Vell. and H. velloziana L. Emygd. (Zingiberales: Heliconiaceae) from the Atlantic forest of southeastern Brazil. Revista Brasileira de Botânica 24:415424.
HANSEN, M., KRAFT, T., CHRISTIANSSON, M. & NILSSON, N. O. 1999. Evaluation of AFLP in Beta. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 98:845852.
HONNAY, O. & BOSSUYT, B. 2005. Prolonged clonal growth; escape route or route to extinction? Oikos 108:427432.
HONNAY, O. & JACQUEMYN, H. 2008. A meta-analysis of the relation between mating system, growth form and genotypic diversity in clonal plant species. Evolutionary Ecology 22:299312.
JACQUEMYN, H., BRYS, R., HONNAY, O., HERMY, M. & ROLDÀN-RUIZ, I. 2006. Sexual reproduction, clonal diversity and genetic differentiation in patchily distributed populations of the temperate forest herb Paris quadrifolia (Trilliaceae). Oecologia 147:434444.
JAKOBSSON, M. & ROSENBERG, N. A. 2007. CLUMPP: a cluster matching and permutation program for dealing with label switching and multimodality in analysis of population structure. Bioinformatics 23:18011806.
KIERS, E. T., PALMER, T. M., IVES, A. R., BRUNO, J. F. & BRONSTEIN, J. L. 2010. Mutualisms in a changing world: an evolutionary perspective. Ecology Letters 13:14591474.
KOLB, A. 2008. Habitat fragmentation reduces plant fitness by disturbing pollination and modifying response to herbivory. Biological Conservation 141:25402549.
KRAMER, A. T., ISON, J. L., ASHLEY, M. V. & HOWE, H. F. 2007. The paradox of forest fragmentation genetics. Conservation Biology 22:878885.
KRESS, W. J. 1990. The diversity and distribution of Heliconia (Heliconiaceae) in Brazil. Acta Botanica Brasilica 4:159167.
KUMAR, S., SKÆVELAND, A., ORR, R. J. S., ENGER, P., RUDEN, T., MEVIK, B-H., BURKI, F., BOTNEN, A. & SHALCHIAN-TABRIZI, K. 2009. AIR: A batch-oriented web program package for construction of supermatrices ready for phylogenomic analyses. BMC Bioinformatics 10:357.
KWAK, M. M., VELTEROP, O. & VAN ANDEL, J. 1998. Pollen and gene flow in fragmented habitats. Applied Vegetation Science 1:3754.
LAURANCE, W. F., LOVEJOY, T. E., VASCONCELOS, H. L., BRUNA, E. M., DIDHAM, R. K., STOUFFER, P. C., GASCON, C., BIERREGAARD, R. O., LAURANCE, S. G. & SAMPAIO, E. 2002. Ecosystem decay of Amazonian forest fragments: a 22-year investigation. Conservation Biology 16:605618.
LENNARTSSON, T. 2002. Extinction thresholds and disrupted plant-pollinator interactions in fragmented plant populations. Ecology 83:30603072.
LOWE, A. J., BOSHIER, D., WARD, M., BACLES, C. F. E. & NAVARRO, C. 2005. Genetic resource impacts of habitat loss and degradation; reconciling empirical evidence and predicted theory for Neotropical trees. Heredity 95:255273.
MANTEL, N. A. 1967. The detection of disease clustering and a generalized regression approach. Cancer Research 27:209220.
MELÉNDEZ-ACKERMAN, E. J., SPERANZA, P., KRESS, W. J., ROHENA, L., TOLEDO, E., CORTES, C., TREECE, D., GITZENDANNER, M., SOLTIS, P. & SOLTIS, D. 2005. Microevolutionary processes inferred from AFLP and morphological variation in Heliconia bihai (Heliconiaceae). International Journal of Plant Sciences 166:781794.
MURAWSKI, D. A. & HAMRICK, J. L. 1990. Local genetic and clonal structure in the tropical terrestrial bromeliad, Aechmea magdalenae . American Journal of Botany 77:12011208.
MYERS, N., MITTERMEIER, R. A., MITTERMEIER, C. G., FONSECA, G. A. B. & KENT, J. 2000. Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403:853858.
NYBOM, H. 2004. Comparison of different nuclear DNA markers for estimating intraspecific genetic diversity in plants. Molecular Ecology 13:11431155.
PERTOLDI, C., BIJLSMA, R. & LOESCHKE, V. 2007. Conservation genetics in a globally changing environment: present problems, paradoxes and future challenges. Biodiversity Conservation 16:41474163.
POMPANON, F., BONIN, A., BELLEMAIN, E. & TABERLET, P. 2005. Genotyping errors: causes, consequences and solutions. Nature Reviews Genetics 6:847859.
PRICE, P. W. 2002. Species interactions and the evolution of biodiversity. Pp. 325 in Herrera, C. M. & Pellmyr, O. (eds.). Plant–animal interactions: an evolutionary approach. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.
PRITCHARD, J. K., STEPHENS, M. & DONNELLY, P. 2000. Inference of population structure using multilocus genotype data. Genetics 155:945959.
RIBEIRO, M. C., METZGER, J. P., MARTENSEN, A. C., PONZONI, F. J. & HIROTA, M. M. 2009. The Brazilian Atlantic Forest: how much is left, and how is the remaining forest distributed? Implications for conservation. Biological Conservation 142:11411153.
ROSENBERG, N. A. 2004. DISTRUCT: a program for the graphical display of population structure. Molecular Ecology Notes 4:137138.
ROSSETTO, M., KOOYMAN, R., SHERWIN, W. & JONES, R. 2008. Dispersal limitations, rather than bottlenecks or habitat specificity, can restrict the distribution of rare and endemic rainforest trees. American Journal of Botany 95:321329.
SCHLEUNING, M., HUAMÀN, V. & MATTHIES, D. 2009. Experimental assessment of factors limiting seedling recruitment of an Amazonian understory herb. Biotropica 41:5765.
SHIRLEY, S. M. 2006. Movement of forest birds across river and clearcut edges of varying riparian buffer strip widths. Forest Ecology and Management 223:190199.
SKILLMAN, J. B., GARCIA, M. & WINTER, K. 1999. Whole plant consequences of crassulacean acid metabolism for a tropical forest understory plant. Ecology 85:15841593.
STEFFEN-DEWENTER, I. & TSCHARNTKE, T. 1999. Effects of habitat isolation on pollinator communities and seed set. Oecologia 121:432440.
STEIN, K. & HENSEN, I. 2011. Potential pollinators and robbers: a study of the floral visitors of Heliconia angusta (Heliconiaceae) and their behaviour. Journal of Pollination Ecology 4:3947.
STILES, F. G. 1975. Ecology, flowering phenology, and hummingbird pollination of some Costa Rican Heliconia species. Ecology 56:285301.
STILES, F. G. 1983. Heliconia latispatha (Platanillo, wild plantain). Pp. 249251 in Janzen, D. H. (ed.). Costa Rican natural history. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
SUÁREZ-MONTES, P., FORNONI, J. & NÙNEZ-FARFÀN, J. 2011. Conservation genetics of the endemic Mexican Heliconia uxpanapensis in the Los Tuxtlas tropical rain forest. Biotropica 43:114121.
TABARELLI, M., PINTO, L. P., SILVA, M. C., HIROTA, M. & BEDE, L. 2005. Challenges and opportunities for biodiversity conservation in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Conservation Biology 19:695700.
VEKEMANS, X., BEAUWENS, T., LEMAIRE, M. & ROLDÀN-RUIZ, I. 2002. Data from amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers show indication of size homoplasy and of a relationship between degree of homoplasy and fragment size. Molecular Ecology 11:139151.
VELOSO, H. P., RANGEL-FILHO, A. L. & LIMA, J. C. A. 1991. Classificação da vegetação brasileira, adaptada a um sistema universal. IBGE/CDDI, Departamento de Documentação e Biblioteca, Instituto Brasileiro de Geografía e Estatística, Rio de Janeiro. 124 pp.
VOS, P., HOGERS, R., BLEEKER, M., REIJANS, M., VAN DE LEE, T., HORNES, M., FRITERS, A., POT, J., PALEMAN, J., KUIPER, M. & ZABEAU, M. 1995. AFLP: new technique for DNA fingerprinting. Nucleic Acids Research 23:44074414.
WATKINSON, A. R. & POWELL, J. C. 1993. Seedling recruitment and the maintenance of clonal diversity in plant populations – a computer simulation of Ranunculus repens . Journal of Ecology 81:707717.
WESTCOTT, D. A. & GRAHAM, D. L. 2000. Patterns of movement and seed dispersal of a tropical frugivore. Oecologia 122:249257.
YOUNG, A., BOYLE, T. & BROWN, T. 1996. The population genetic consequences of habitat fragmentation for plants. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 11:413418.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed