The Ceratozamia norstogii complex from Southern Mexico is made up of four closely related taxa and occurs in similar habitats (Quercus forest). All have linear-lanceolate leaflets with great similarity between them, especially in juvenile stages, but differentiate with age. There has been debate regarding delimitation of species due to character loss in herbarium specimens. The aim of this study was to determine the genetic variation, and to measure genetic similarity between the four taxa. We studied populations in Cintalapa (Chiapas) for C. alvarezii and C. norstogii; the Sierra Atravesada (Oaxaca) for C. chimalapensis, and Villa Flores (Chiapas) for C. mirandae. One population for each taxon was sampled (only one population is known for C. alvarezii) 11-15 randomly chosen adult individuals were sampled. Twenty-eight primers were tested of which five were polymorphic using the RAPD’S technique. The data were analyzed using Bayesian methods. Results revealed low genetic diversity, and a differentiation was found between species, suggesting a recent divergence. A previous morphological and anatomical study on the complex has found the taxa to be distinct. However, the results of this study have shown that the C. norstogii species complex is in a divergence process, probably through genetic drift and founder effects.

Keywords: cycads, Ceratozamia norstogii complex, Zamiaceae, Mexico, genetic variation, speciation, founder effects