Abstract / Description of output
Planting of native trees for habitat restoration is a widespread practice, but the consequences for the retention and transmission of genetic diversity in planted and natural populations are unclear. Using Inga vera subsp. affinis as a model species, we genotyped five natural and five planted populations in the Atlantic forest of northeastern Brazil at polymorphic microsatellite loci. We studied the breeding system and population structure to test how much genetic diversity is retained in planted relative to natural populations. We then genotyped seedlings from these populations to test whether genetic diversity in planted populations is restored by outcrossing to natural populations of I. vera. The breeding system of natural I. vera populations was confirmed to be highly outcrossing (t = 0.92; FIS = 20.061, P = 0.04), with populations showing weak population substructure (FST = 0.028). Genetic diversity in planted populations was 50% less than that of natural populations (planted: AR = 14.9, HO = 0.865 and natural: AR = 30.8, HO = 0.655). However, seedlings from planted populations showed a 30% higher allelic richness relative to their parents (seedlings AR = 10.5, parents AR = 7.6). Understanding the processes and interactions that shape this system are necessary to provide ecologically sensible goals and successfully restore hyperfragmented habitats. Future restoration plans for I. vera must consider the genetic diversity of planted populations and the potential for gene flow between natural populations in the landscape, in order to preserve ecological interactions (i.e. pollination), and promote opportunities for outcrossing.