Agricultural Landscape Heterogeneity Matter: Responses of Neutral Genetic Diversity and Adaptive Traits in a Neotropical Savanna Tree
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Plants are one of the most vulnerable groups to fragmentation and habitat loss, that may affect community richness, abundance, functional traits, and genetic diversity. Here, we address the effects of landscape features on adaptive quantitative traits and evolutionary potential, and on neutral genetic diversity in populations of the Neotropical savanna tree Caryocar brasiliense. We sampled adults and juveniles in 10 savanna remnants within five landscapes. To obtain neutral genetic variation, we genotyped all individuals from each site using nine microsatellite loci. For adaptive traits we measured seed size and mass and grown seeds in nursery in completely randomized experimental design. We obtained mean, additive genetic variance (Va) and coefficient of variation (CVa%), which measures evolvability, for 17 traits in seedlings. We found that landscapes with higher compositional heterogeneity (SHDI) had lower evolutionary potential (CVa%) in leaf length (LL) and lower aboveground dry mass (ADM) genetic differentiation (QST). We also found that landscapes with higher SHDI had higher genetic diversity (He) and allelic richness (AR) in adults, and lower genetic differentiation (FST). In juveniles, SHDI was also positively related to AR. These results are most likely due to longer dispersal distance of pollen in landscapes with lower density of flowering individuals. Agricultural landscapes with low quality mosaic may be more stressful for plant species, due to the lower habitat cover (%), higher cover of monocropping (%) and other land covers, and edge effects. However, in landscapes with higher SHDI with high quality mosaic, forest nearby savanna habitat and the other environments may facilitate the movement or provide additional habitat and resources for seed disperses and pollinators, increasing gene flow and genetic diversity. Finally, despite the very recent agriculture expansion in Central Brazil, we found no time lag in response to habitat loss, because both adults and juveniles were affected by landscape changes.