The authors provide an estimate of genetic differentiation within and among 11 populations of Cordia alliodora, an economically important timber tree. Cordia alliodora is a widespread species that is distributed throughout Central and South America. The survey of isozyme variation was conducted on material gathered for international provenance trials over approximately 1,000 km in Central America. Results from provenance trials indicate that there are significant differences between Atlantic and Pacific coast provenances for quantitative characters. Genetic data support some of these findings. Populations of C. alliodora show significant differences in allele frequency at various loci. Significant differences in multilocus allele frequencies occur at 13 of the 55 possible combinations. Eight of these 13 populations are situated on opposite coasts. This physical separation corresponds well with the results of provenance trials that indicate differentiation among the Atlantic and Pacific populations in quantitative morphological traits. The study also found a significant negative correlation between levels of heterozygosity and the amount of rainfall, indicating that populations from the drier zone are genetically more heterogenous than populations from the wet zone. The study indicates that in situ and ex situ conservation should accord high priority to the dry zone populations; furthermore, conservation of this widespread species would require preservation of multiple populations.
Americal Journal of Botany (1995) 82 (4) 468-475