Data from: A comparative study on genetic effects of artificial and natural habitat fragmentation on Loropetalum chinense (Hamamelidaceae) in Southeast China
Yuan, Na et al. (2014), Data from: A comparative study on genetic effects of artificial and natural habitat fragmentation on Loropetalum chinense (Hamamelidaceae) in Southeast China, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.585t1
Elucidating the demographic and landscape features that determine the genetic effects of habitat fragmentation has become fundamental to research in conservation and evolutionary biology. Land-bridge islands provide ideal study areas for investigating the genetic effects of habitat fragmentation at different temporal and spatial scales. In this context, we compared patterns of nuclear microsatellite variation between insular populations of a shrub of evergreen broad-leaved forest, Loropetalum chinense, from the artificially created Thousand-Island Lake (TIL) and the Holocene-dated Zhoushan Archipelago of Southeast China. Populations from the TIL region harboured higher levels of genetic diversity than those from the Zhoushan Archipelago, but these differences were not significant. There was no correlation between genetic diversity and most island features, excepting a negative effect of mainland–island distance on allelic richness and expected heterozygosity in the Zhoushan Archipelago. In general, levels of gene flow among island populations were moderate to high, and tests of alternative models of population history strongly favoured a gene flow-drift model over a pure drift model in each region. In sum, our results showed no obvious genetic effects of habitat fragmentation due to recent (artificial) or past (natural) island formation. Rather, they highlight the importance of gene flow (most likely via seed) in maintaining genetic variation and preventing inter-population differentiation in the face of habitat ‘insularization’ at different temporal and spatial scales.