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GIS-based characterization of the geographic distributions of wild and cultivated populations of the Mesoamerican fruit tree Spondias purpurea (Anacardiaceae)

Miller, Allison J., Knouft, Jason H.
American journal of botany 2006 v.93 no.12 pp. 1757-1767
Spondias purpurea, geographical distribution, wild plants, cultivars, domestication, geographic information systems, environmental factors, niches, seasonal variation, tropical forests, habitats, plant ecology, Central America
Humans are having a profound impact on the geographic distributions of plant populations. In crop species, domestication has been accompanied by the geographic expansion of cultivated populations relative to their wild ancestors. We used a geographical information system (GIS)-based approach to investigate differences in the environmental factors characterizing the geographic distributions of cultivated and wild populations of the Mesoamerican fruit tree Spondias purpurea. Locality data for 86 cultivated and 28 wild S. purpurea populations were used in conjunction with environmental data layers and Maxent, a maximum entropy application for predicting species distributions. Interpredictivity analyses and principal components analysis revealed that the predicted distribution of wild S. purpurea is nested within the cultivated distribution and that the ecological niche (defined by environmental characteristics) of cultivated S. purpurea has expanded relative to that of wild populations. Significant differences between wild and cultivated populations were detected for five environmental variables, corresponding to the expansion of S. purpurea during the domestication process from its native habitat in the Mesoamerican tropical dry forests into less seasonal habitats. These data suggest that humans have altered the range of habitats occupied by cultivated S. purpurea populations relative to their wild progenitors.