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Genetic diversity was high for both diploid ( = 0.009–0.061) levels for the three species, suggesting substantial gene flow among populations.
Gene exchange among populations seems to be regulated by distance among populations.
For the peninsula region, five, four, and two populations were sampled, respectively.
At each site and when population densities allowed, 48 adult individuals of each species were selected.
Conspecific plants were at least 10 m apart to be eligible for sampling.
Viable seeds from one fruit per individual were collected and stored under dry conditions.
Empirical evidence suggests that pollen-mediated gene flow is often the predominant form of gene flow in outcrossing plants (Ellstrand, 1992).
Gene flow models predict that the level of population subdivision in a species should be constrained by the extent of genetic exchange among populations, an effect that could be accentuated by the existence of long-distance migrants (Wright, 1943).
We compared our estimates of genetic diversity and structure, based on seedling samples, with values reported for other cacti surveyed on the same spatial scales but with contrasting gene-dispersal systems.
Assuming that plant-feeding bats can transport pollen, and probably seeds, far away from the donor plants, we would expect this process to promote low levels of plant population subdivision and substantial within-population genetic variation.