Data from: Genetic co-structure in a meta-community under threat of habitat fragmentation
Cite this dataset
De Kort, Hanne et al. (2018). Data from: Genetic co-structure in a meta-community under threat of habitat fragmentation [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.f371754
Habitat fragmentation increasingly threatens the services provided by natural communities and ecosystem worldwide. An understanding of the eco-evolutionary processes underlying fragmentation-compromised communities in natural settings is lacking, yet critical to realistic and sustainable conservation. Through integrating the multivariate genetic, biotic and abiotic facets of a natural community module experiencing various degrees of habitat fragmentation, we provide unique insights into the processes underlying community functioning in real, natural conditions. The focal community module comprises a parasitic butterfly of conservation concern, and its two obligatory host species, a plant and an ant. We show that both historical dispersal and ongoing habitat fragmentation shape population genetic diversity of the butterfly Phengaris alcon and its most limited host species (the plant Gentiana pneumonanthe). Genetic structure of the individual species was strongly driven by geographical structure, altitude and landscape connectivity. Strikingly, however, was the strong degree of genetic co-structure among the three species that could not be explained by the spatial variables under study. This finding suggests that factors other than spatial configuration, including co-evolutionary dynamics and shared dispersal pathways, cause parallel genetic structure among interacting species. While the exact contribution of coevolution and shared dispersal routes on the genetic variation within and among communities deserves further attention, our findings demonstrate a considerable degree of genetic parallelism in natural meta-communities. The significant effect of landscape connectivity on the genetic diversity and structure of the butterfly also suggests that habitat fragmentation may threaten the functioning of the community module on the long run.