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Genetic and functional variation across regional and local scales is associated with climate in a foundational prairie grass

Citation

Hoffman, Ava; Bushey, Julie A.; Ocheltree, Troy W.; Smith, Melinda D. (2020), Genetic and functional variation across regional and local scales is associated with climate in a foundational prairie grass, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.n4h659q

Abstract

  • Global change forecasts in ecosystems require knowledge of within species diversity, particularly of dominant species within communities. We assessed site-level diversity and capacity for adaptation of the dominant species of the shortgrass steppe biome of the Central US, Bouteloua gracilis.
  • We quantified genetic diversity from 17 sites across regional scales, north-south from New Mexico to South Dakota, and local scales in Northern Colorado. We also quantified phenotype and plasticity within and among sites and determined the extent to which phenotypic diversity in B. gracilis was related to climate.
  • Genome sequencing indicated pronounced population structure at the regional scale, and local differences indicated gene flow and/or dispersal may also be limited. Within a common environment, we found evidence for genetic divergence in biomass-related phenotypes, plasticity, and phenotypic variance, indicating functional divergence and different adaptive potential. Phenotypes differentiated according to climate, chiefly median Palmer Hydrological Drought Index and other aridity metrics.
  • Our results indicate conclusive differences in genetic variation, phenotype, and plasticity in this species and suggest a mechanism explaining variation in shortgrass steppe community responses to global change. This analysis of B. gracilis intraspecific diversity across spatial scales will improve conservation and management of the shortgrass steppe ecosystem moving forward.

Funding

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Award: 2017-67011-26072

National Science Foundation, Award: 1354732

National Science Foundation, Award: 1239559

Location

USA
Great Plains