Meta-analysis of the differential effects of habitat fragmentation and degradation on plant genetic diversity

Alejandra V. González, Valeria Gómez-Silva, María José Ramírez, FRANCISCO ENRIQUE FONTURBEL RADA

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Genetic diversity is a key factor for population survival and evolution. However, anthropogenic habitat disturbance can erode it, making populations more prone to extinction. Aiming to assess the global effects of habitat disturbance on plant genetic variation, we conducted a meta-analysis based on 92 case studies obtained from published literature. We compared the effects of habitat fragmentation and degradation on plant allelic richness and gene diversity (equivalent to expected heterozygosity) and tested whether such changes are sensitive to different life-forms, life spans, mating systems, and commonness. Anthropogenic disturbance had a negative effect on allelic richness, but not on gene diversity. Habitat fragmentation had a negative effect on genetic variation, whereas habitat degradation had no effect. When we examined the individual effects in fragmented habitats, allelic richness and gene diversity decreased, but this decrease was strongly dependent on certain plant traits. Specifically, common long-lived trees and self-incompatible species were more susceptible to allelic richness loss. Conversely, gene diversity decreased in common short-lived species (herbs) with self-compatible reproduction. In a wider geographical context, tropical plant communities were more sensitive to allelic richness loss, whereas temperate plant communities were more sensitive to gene diversity loss. Our synthesis showed complex responses to habitat disturbance among plant species. In many cases, the absence of effects could be the result of the time elapsed since the disturbance event or reproductive systems favoring self-pollination, but attention must be paid to those plant species that are more susceptible to losing genetic diversity, and appropriate conservation should be actions taken.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)711-720
Number of pages10
JournalConservation Biology
Volume34
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • allelic richness
  • forma de vida
  • geographic origin
  • heterocigosidad
  • heterozygosity
  • life span
  • life-form
  • marcador molecular
  • molecular markers
  • origen geográfico
  • plant reproduction
  • reclutamiento
  • recruitment
  • reproducción de plantas
  • riqueza de alelos
  • tiempo de vida

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Meta-analysis of the differential effects of habitat fragmentation and degradation on plant genetic diversity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this