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Genetic variation of introduced Hawaiian and native Costa Rican populations of an invasive tropical shrub, Clidemia hirta (Melastomataceae)

DeWalt, S.J., Hamrick, J.L.
American journal of botany 2004 v.91 no.8 pp. 1155-1163
Clidemia hirta, alleles, allozymes, forests, genetic variation, heterozygosity, hybridization, invasive species, islands, loci, woody plants, Caribbean, Costa Rica, Hawaii
Clidemia hirta is one of the most common woody invasive plants in mesic to wet forests in Hawaii, where it was introduced around 1940. The species is relatively uncommon by comparison in its native range of Central and South America and some Caribbean Islands. We examined genetic variation in allozymes of 20 C. hirta populations on four Hawaiian Islands to determine the introduction history. For comparison, we measured genetic variation in 20 native populations across Costa Rica. Mean levels of genetic variation in Hawaiian and Costa Rican populations were low compared to other woody or introduced plants (11.5-12.5% polymorphic loci, 2.05-2.50 alleles per polymorphic locus, and 0.045-0.063 expected heterozygosity). Most genetic diversity was held within rather than among populations in both areas (G(ST) = 0.120 and 0.271 in Hawaii and Costa Rica, respectively). Hawaiian populations had a high degree of genetic similarity, and no genetic differentiation was found among the four Hawaiian Islands sampled. These patterns of genetic variation in Hawaii suggest that no intraspecific hybridization of genotypes from different parts of the native range has occurred and that introductions to the different islands came from the same or similar source populations. The low levels of genetic diversity in parts of both the native and introduced ranges suggest that genetic variation is unrelated to invasiveness in C. hirta.