Genetic diversity and population genetic structure in fragmented Allocasuarina verticillata (Allocasuarinaceae) – implications for restoration Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Vegetation restoration in fragmented regions is constrained by limited supplies of high quality seed and an understanding of the scale over which seed can be moved without causing negative outcomes. ‘Local’ seed is often prescribed for restoration but in fragmented landscapes this restricts collecting to small, inbred populations. Six polymorphic microsatellites were used to examine genetic diversity and population genetic structure in seed collected from 18 fragmented natural populations and three restored populations of the wind-pollinated and dispersed tree Allocasuarina verticillata, a key restoration species. Smaller populations produced seed crops with significantly fewer alleles, lower allelic richness and less gene diversity. Most of the populations assessed, including the restored sites, produce genetically diverse seed crops suitable for restoration but smaller populations (<30 plants) should be augmented with seed from larger populations. Principal coordinate analysis, graph-theory and Bayesian analyses found little evidence of spatially predictable genetic structure across the study region, which probably reflects long distance gene dispersal preventing the development of strong spatial structure. The absence of strong spatial patterns suggests that seed can be moved beyond current 5–50-km limits while being mindful of strong selection gradients or conditions that might indicate locally adapted populations.

publication date

  • 2011