Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Microsatellite analysis of populations of the endangered tree Gomortega keule suggests pre-Columbian differentiation

Munoz-Concha, Diego; Davey, Michael R.; Ribas, Gracia; Mayes, Sean

Microsatellite analysis of populations of the endangered tree Gomortega keule suggests pre-Columbian differentiation Thumbnail


Diego Munoz-Concha

Michael R. Davey

Gracia Ribas

Associate Professor


Temperate forests have been affected extensively by human activities, resulting in land cover changes and population fragmentation. However, these anthropogenic effects can be superimposed onto the natural history of species, making it difficult to determine which effect is more important for a particular species. Gomortega keule is an endangered tree that is found in one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots in central–south Chile. Human activities have significantly impacted on the original habitat in this region in recent years and are commonly considered to be the main cause of the scarcity of this species. However, aspects of the natural history of this evergreen tree may also help to explain its present-day genetic structure. In this study, we undertook microsatellite genotyping of the two southernmost populations of G. keule, which are 7.5 km apart and well isolated from other populations. We found that there was genetic differentiation between these populations, suggesting that they exhibited at least some differentiation before becoming isolated, most likely before human activities first impacted the region some two centuries ago. Molecular estimates of their divergence time supported a more ancient differentiation of the populations than would be explained by human activities alone. It is possible that their isolation may have followed the extinction of megafaunal seed dispersers around 12,000 years before present in this region, as indicated by fruit characteristics, the absence of recruitment by seedlings and the existence of clonal trees.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 14, 2017
Online Publication Date Jul 6, 2017
Deposit Date Jul 11, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jul 11, 2017
Journal New Zealand Journal of Botany
Print ISSN 0028-825X
Electronic ISSN 1175-8643
Publisher Royal Society of New Zealand
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 55
Issue 3
Keywords Fragmentation, genetic structure, Gomortega keule, megafaunal extinction, population genetics, relict populations
Public URL
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations