University of Oulu

Hens, H., Pakanen, V-M., Jäkäläniemi, A., Tuomi, J., Kvist, L. (2017) Low population viability in small endangered orchid populations : genetic variation, seedling recruitment and stochasticity. Biological Conservation, 210 (Part A), 174-183.

Low population viability in small endangered orchid populations : genetic variation, seedling recruitment and stochasticity

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Author: Hens, Hilde1,2; Pakanen, Veli-Matti1; Jäkäläniemi, Anne3;
Organizations: 1Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 3000, 90014 Oulu, Finland
2Thule Institute, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 7300, 90014 Oulu, Finland
3Thule Institute, Oulanka Research Station, Liikasenvaarantie 134, 93999 Kuusamo, Finland
4Section of Ecology, Department of Biology, University Turku, 20014 Turku, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2017
Publish Date: 2019-04-26


There are only few studies that use both demographic and genetic data to assess population viability of plant species. We combined genetic and demographic data from 11 endangered perennial orchid populations of varying size in order to reveal determinants of viability. Small populations had substantially lower viability compared to large populations. Seedling recruitment rates were remarkably lower in small populations; this was not due to pollination limitation or inbreeding depression because the fruit set and heterozygosity were not correlated with population size, suggesting that there may be differences in successful germination. Low recruitment resulted in significantly lower predicted population growth rates in small populations. The impact of stochasticity on viability varied among populations and stochastic simulations indicated that only one large population was viable, whereas all the other large populations were predicted to go extinct within decades. While there was a positive correlation between the deterministic population growth rate and allelic richness, we did not find any other correlations between genetic variation and fitness or population size. The study populations are likely remnant populations of a once large meta-population that decreased in size due to unfavourable environmental conditions. Management should focus on the maintenance of large population size, which is needed to avoid negative consequences of stochasticity and to enhance seedling recruitment rates.

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Series: Biological conservation
ISSN: 0006-3207
ISSN-E: 1873-2917
ISSN-L: 0006-3207
Volume: 210
Pages: 174 - 183
DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2017.04.019
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This work has been supported by the Thule Institute and the Department of Biology of the University of Oulu and the National Science Foundation of Elizabeth Crone's Research Group (NSF DEB 10-20889). VMP was supported by the Academy of Finland, Research Council for Biosciences and Environment (278759).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 278759
Detailed Information: 278759 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2017. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license