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

Stöcklin, Jürg and Kuss, Patrick and 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.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A5251037

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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 is increasing 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 population 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 is usually higher if alpine species are compared with species from the lowland. 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.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Ehemalige Einheiten Umweltwissenschaften > Pflanzenökologie (Körner)
UniBasel Contributors:Stöcklin, Jürg
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:13 Nov 2017 17:01
Deposited On:22 Mar 2012 13:43

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