Genetic diversity, phenotypic variation and local adaptation in the alpine landscape: case studies with alpine plant species

Stoecklin, Juerg; Kuss, Patrick; Pluess, Andrea R. (2009). Genetic diversity, phenotypic variation and local adaptation in the alpine landscape: case studies with alpine plant species. Botanica Helvetica, 119(2), pp. 125-133. Birkhäuser 10.1007/s00035-009-0065-1

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Plant survival in alpine landscapes is constantly challenged by the harsh and often unpredictable environmental conditions. Steep environmental gradients and patchy distribution of habitats lead to small size and spatial isolation of populations and restrict gene flow. Agricultural land use has further increased the diversity of habitats below and above the treeline. We studied the consequences of the highly structured alpine landscape for evolutionary processes in four study plants: Epilobium fleischeri, Geum reptans, Campanula thyrsoides and Poa alpina. The main questions were: (1) How is genetic diversity distributed within and among populations and is it affected by altitude, population size or land use? (2) Do reproductive traits such as allocation to sexual or vegetative reproduction vary with altitude or land use? Furthermore, we studied if seed weight increases with altitude. Within-population genetic diversity of the four species was high and mostly not related to altitude and population size. Nevertheless, genetic differentiation among populations was pronounced and strongly increasing with distance. In Poa alpina genetic diversity was affected by land use. Results suggest considerable genetic drift among populations of alpine plants. Reproductive allocation was affected by altitude and land use in Poa alpina and by succession in Geum reptans. Seed weight was usually higher in alpine species than in related lowland species. We conclude that the evolutionary potential to respond to global change is mostly intact in alpine plants, even at high altitude. Phenotypic variability is shaped by adaptive as well as by random evolutionary processes; moreover plastic responses to growth conditions seem to be crucial for survival of plants in the alpine landscape.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Kuss, Patrick

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

0253-1453

Publisher:

Birkhäuser

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

15 Aug 2014 08:09

Last Modified:

10 Aug 2015 11:12

Publisher DOI:

10.1007/s00035-009-0065-1

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Altitudinal gradient, Clonal reproduction, Common garden, Gene flow, Genetic drift, Isolation by distance, Microsatellites, RAPD, Seed weight

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.53774

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/53774

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