Journal Article

Phylogeography of the Tree <i>Hymenaea stigonocarpa</i> (Fabaceae: Caesalpinioideae) and the Influence of Quaternary Climate Changes in the Brazilian Cerrado

Ana Carolina Simões Ramos, José Pires Lemos-Filho, Renata Acácio Ribeiro, Fabrício Rodrigues Santos and Maria Bernadete Lovato

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 100, issue 6, pages 1219-1228
Published in print November 2007 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online September 2007 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Phylogeography of the Tree Hymenaea stigonocarpa (Fabaceae: Caesalpinioideae) and the Influence of Quaternary Climate Changes in the Brazilian Cerrado

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Background and Aims Hymenaea stigonocarpa

(Fabaceae: Caesalpinioideae) is an endemic tree from the Brazilian cerrado (savanna vegetation), a biome classified as a hotspot for conservation priority. This study investigates the phylogeographic structure of H. stigonocarpa, in order to understand the processes that have led to its current spatial genetic pattern.


The polymorphism level and spatial distribution of variants of the plastid non-coding region between the genes psbC and trnS were investigated in 175 individuals from 17 populations, covering the greater part of the total distribution of the species. Molecular diversity indices were calculated and intra-specific relationships were inferred by the construction of haplotype networks using the median-joining method. Genetic differentiation among populations and main geographical groups was evaluated using spatial analysis of molecular variance (SAMOVA).

Key Results

Twenty-three different haplotypes were identified. The level of differentiation among the populations analysed was relatively high (FST = 0·692). Phylogeographic analyses showed a clear association between the haplotype network and geographic distribution of populations, revealing three main geographical groups: western, central and eastern. SAMOVA corroborated this finding, indicating that most of the variation can be attributed to differences among these three groups (58·8 %), with little difference among populations within groups (FSC = 0·252).


The subdivision of the geographic distribution of H. stigonocarpa populations into three genetically differentiated groups can be associated with Quaternary climatic changes. The data suggest that during glacial times H. stigonocarpa populations became extinct in most parts of the southern present-day cerrado area. Milder climatic conditions in the north and eastern portions of the cerrado resulted in maintenance of populations in these regions. Thus it is inferred that the most southern part of the present-day cerrado was re-colonized by different lineages from northern parts of this biome, after postglacial climate amelioration.

Keywords: Biogeography; cerrado; genetic structure; Quaternary climate changes; Fabaceae; Leguminosae; Hymenaea stigonocarpa; neotropical savannas; Pleistocene; phylogeography; psbC-trnS

Journal Article.  6386 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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