Title High genetic differentiation in population of the rare alpine plant species Campanula thyrsoides on a small mountain
Author/s Frei ES, Scheepens JF, Stöcklin J
Year 2012
Journal Alpine Botany 122:23-34
Abstract Changes in climate and traditional land use have contributed to a loss and fragmentation of suitable habitats for many alpine plant species. Despite the impor- tance of these changes, our knowledge of the consequences for gene flow and genetic diversity is still poor, especially in rare taxa and at fine spatial scales. Here, we investigated the genetic diversity in a rare alpine plant on a small and highly structured mountain in the Swiss Alps. Using microsatellite markers and Bayesian cluster analyses, we investigated genetic diversity within and among 24 populations of Campanula thyrsoides L. We also tested whether landscape structure has affected genetic structure by correlating genetic diversity with landscape and population features, which were assessed in a four-year monitoring period. The recorded genetic diversity (He = 0.714) and genetic dif- ferentiation (G0ST = 0.32) at distances of 1–10 km were remarkably high. Clustering analyses revealed a split of populations into two genetically different spatial groups, but between-population genetic distances were neither correlated to geographic distance, elevation nor slope. The high differentiation and genetic bottlenecks may indicate strong founder effects, although the number of alleles was not decreased in bottlenecked populations. We conclude that stochastic colonisation by seeds is most important for shaping the genetic structure of C. thyrsoides on this small mountain. The high genetic diversity even in small popu- lations may indicate that occasional gene flow is strongenough to overcome negative effects of bottlenecks. Nevertheless, further fragmentation and isolation of habitats may threaten this rare plant in the future.
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