Patterns in genetic diversity of Trifolium pallescens populations do not reflect chronosequence on alpine glacier forelands

Raffl,C.; Holderegger,R.; Parson,W.; Erschbaumer,B.
How does genetic diversity within populations of plants develop during primary succession on alpine glacier forelands? Theory predicts that pioneer populations are characterized by low genetic diversity due to founder effects and that genetic diversity increases within populations as they mature and recurrent gene flow occurs. However, few genetic studies have so far been carried out on plants on glacier forelands. In this study, we analysed the development of genetic diversity with time for populations of Trifolium pallescens along successional series (chronosequences) on three parallel glacier forelands in the European Alps, using neutral amplified fragment length polymorphism. No general trend in the development of genetic diversity was observed with increasing population age: even pioneer populations harboured substantial genetic diversity. Assignment tests showed that the latter consist of a genetic sub-sample from several source areas, and not just from other populations on the glacier forelands. We also detected some long distances-that is, inter-valley gene flow events. However, gene flow was not spatially unrestricted, as shown by a weak isolation by distance pattern within glacier valleys. The actual patterns of genetic diversity along the chronosequences are a result of the combination of factors, such as gene flow and growth rate, influenced by site- and species-specific attributes
Heredity 2008 100(5):526-532
Tags: population
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