Conservation genetics and phylogeography of endangered boreoarctic seashore plant species
1University of Oulu, Faculty of Science, Department of Biology
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|Academic dissertation to be presented, with the assent of the Faculty of Science of the University of Oulu, for public defence in Kuusamonsali (Auditorium YB210), Linnanmaa, on January 30th, 2009, at 12 noon
Doctor Hans Peter Koelewijn
Professor Katri Kärkkäinen
The amount and distribution of genetic diversity are likely to affect the evolutionary potential of a species. When feasible and cost-effective policies for management and monitoring of endangered populations or species are planned, knowledge of the spatial genetic structure and the type of population dynamics is of great concern. In this thesis the genetic diversity and population structures of two endangered arctic plant species was examined on different geographical scales in Northern Europe. The species were Siberian primrose (Primula nutans) and pendant grass (Arctophila fulva), which both grow in a seashore habitat and have similar distribution patterns on the shores of the Arctic Ocean and the Bothnian Bay.
The goal of the present study was to provide basic population genetic information for the study species using microsatellite and AFLP markers. Both markers were used for the first time in these species, and species-specific microsatellite markers were developed during the study. A further aim was to interlink the population genetic processes of the species into distribution patterns at the regional and population levels and to compile a synthesis of the impact of hierarchical spatiotemporal processes and autocorrelation in genetic variation at different levels.
The studies of this thesis provided new information on the diversity and population structure of the endangered study species and new markers that are useful in future genetic studies of primrose species. The diversity of Siberian primrose was low, and there was no dispersal between the study regions. In pendant grass, a relatively high amount of variation was found considering the evident clonal reproduction and gene flow that was detected between populations connected by waterways. The results suggested that both clonal and sexual reproduction are important in this species. On a local scale, pendant grass populations had characteristics of “stepping stone” and classical metapopulation models.
The results indicated that on a long time scale, both species will continue to decline without efficient management efforts. Most critical for the persistence of the species is the conservation of suitable habitats. Translocations could be considered in order to enhance the diversity of existing populations and establish new populations.
By examining the present day structure of Siberian primrose, it was possible to make inferences regarding the colonisation history of the species in the North European area. The current distribution of Siberian primrose seemed to result from a vicariant process that took place after the last ice-age, when the species colonised the area. It spread first to the White Sea area, probably from the east, and subsequently colonised the Bothnian Bay and the Barents Sea in the west. The isostatic land uplift after the retreat of the Eurasian ice sheet uncovered large areas of land from the Baltic Sea basin that previously were under water. These geological changes resulted in the current disjunct distribution of Siberian primrose.
Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. A, Scientiae rerum naturalium
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