iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


The genetic consequences of habitat fragmentation: the case of forests

Andrea Piotti   

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 2, Issue 3, Pages 75-76 (2009)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor0496-002
Published: Jun 10, 2009 - Copyright © 2009 SISEF

Commentaries & Perspectives

Habitat fragmentation is one of the most serious threats to plant biodiversity at the within-population level. Growing attention on the genetic effects of habitat fragmentation is reflected in the 2008 publication of several review papers. In general, fragmentation showed a negative effect on the genetic variability of plant populations. However, for forest trees the genetic signal of fragmentation seems less clear. Here I discuss the development of less explored issues that can help to clarify some unresolved questions about tree responses to fragmentation. In particular, the understudied effect of delay in sexual maturity and the need for accurate estimates of gene flow are taken into account. I finally underline the potential role of the Italian peninsula as an open-sky laboratory for forest fragmentation studies.


Conservation genetics, Range limits, Genetic diversity, Gene flow

Authors’ address

Andrea Piotti
Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Parma, v.le Usberti 11/A, I-43100 Parma (Italy)

Corresponding author

Andrea Piotti


Piotti A (2009). The genetic consequences of habitat fragmentation: the case of forests. iForest 2: 75-76. - doi: 10.3832/ifor0496-002

Academic Editor

Gabriele Bucci

Paper history

Received: Jan 12, 2009
Accepted: Mar 31, 2009

First online: Jun 10, 2009
Publication Date: Jun 10, 2009
Publication Time: 2.37 months

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List of the papers citing this article based on CrossRef Cited-by.

Aguilar R, Quesada M, Ashworth L, Herrerias-Diego Y, Lobo J (2008)
Genetic consequences of habitat fragmentation in plant populations: susceptible signals in plant traits and methodological approaches. Molecular Ecology 17: 5177-5188.
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Austerlitz F, Mariette S, Machon N, Gouyon PH, Godelle B (2000)
Effects of colonization processes on genetic diversity: differences between annual plants and tree species. Genetics 154: 1309-1321.
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Brindle JR, Vines TH (2006)
Limit to evolution at range margins: when and why does adaptation fail? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 22: 140-147.
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Eckert CG, Samis KE, Lougheed SC (2008)
Genetic variation across species’ geographical ranges: the central-marginal hypothesis and beyond. Molecular Ecology 17: 1170-1188.
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Kramer AT, Ison JL, Ashley MV, Howe HF (2008)
The paradox of forest fragmentation genetics. Conservation Biology 22:878-885.
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Nathan R (2008)
An emerging movement ecology paradigm. Proceedings of the National Society of Science 105:19050-19051.
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Ohsawa T, Ide Y (2008)
Global patterns of genetic variation in plant species along vertical and horizontal gradients on mountains. Global Ecology and Biogeography 17:152-163.
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Young A, Boyle T, Brown T (1996)
The population genetic consequences of habitat fragmentation for plants. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 11:413-418.
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