Spatially limited clonality and pollen and seed dispersal in a characteristic climber of Central African rain forests: Haumania danckelmaniana (Marantaceae)
Ley AC; Hardy OJ
Gene dispersal and clonality are important aspects of plant evolution affecting the spatial genetic structure (SGS) and the long-term survival of species. In the tropics these parameters have mostly been investigated in trees and some herbs but rarely in climbers which frequently: (1) show clonal growth leading to a patchy distribution pattern similar to that of understory herbs; and (2) flower in the canopy where they may have access to long-distance dispersal like canopy trees. We thus hypothesize for climbers an intermediate genetic structure between herbs and trees. The study aims at assessing breeding system and spatial extent of clonality and gene dispersal in Haumania danckelmaniana (Marantaceae) a common climber in the tropical rain forests from western Central Africa. In eastern Cameroon 330 ramets were sampled at three spatial scales and genotyped at seven microsatellite loci. Clonality was moderate (clonal extend: 15–25 m clonal diversity 0.4–0.65) indicating the importance of recruitment from seeds at this locality. The low inbreeding (FIS) suggested predominant outcrossing. The rate of decay of the relatedness between individuals with distance indicated limited gene dispersal distance (sg = 9–50 m neighborhood sizes Nb = 23–67) in accordance with narrowly gravity dispersed seeds and restricted pollen transfer distance in densely flowering populations. The marked SGS (Sp = 0.011–0.026) was similar to that reported in tropical trees but might increase with augmented clonality as in many herbs especially under more severe disturbance regimes.