Genetic diversity in Micronesian island populations of the tropical tree Campnosperma brevipetiolata (Anacardiaceae)

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Tropical plant species have been the focus of considerable attention in regard to their potential economic and social importance in the face of rapidly diminishing biodiversity in the tropics. Pacific Island species represent an even more fragile resource because different island populations are widely scattered and overall population sizes are small. We examined the distribution of genetic variation in Campnosperma brevipetiolata (Anacardiaceae), an upland rainforest tree species that is of potential use for both lumber and reforestation efforts in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Seeds were collected from multiple populations on four island groups in the Caroline Islands (Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap in the FSM; and the Republic of Palau) and subjected to an electrophoretic analysis involving four polymorphic genetic loci. We hypothesized that variation on these islands would decrease with increasing distance from the presumed Indo-Malayan source of these island floras. Indeed, we found a trend of decreasing variation from west to east indicated by the mean number of alleles per locus (A = 1.50-1.33), effective number of alleles per locus (A(e) = 1.14-1.12) and mean genetic diversity (H-e = 0.123-0.107). We also found little genetic differentiation among the islands (F-pt = 0.174) and among subpopulations within islands (F-sp = 0.047), indicating that either there are high levels of gene flow among the islands by seed dispersal or that these populations have not been established long enough for divergence to have occurred. The lack of divergence among islands observed for Campnosperma brevipetiolata suggests that germplasm sampled from any one island population would be a suitable starting point for plant breeding or reforestation efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1571-1579
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1996


  • Anacardiaceae
  • Campnosperma brevipetiolata
  • genetic differentiation
  • genetic diversity
  • Micronesian islands
  • tropical tree
  • FLOW


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