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Data from: Genetic diversity and spatial genetic structure of the grassland perennial Saxifraga granulata along two river systems

Citation

van der Meer, Sascha; Jacquemyn, Hans (2016), Data from: Genetic diversity and spatial genetic structure of the grassland perennial Saxifraga granulata along two river systems, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.q3d2m

Abstract

Due to changes in land use, the natural habitats of an increasing number of plant species have become more and more fragmented. In landscapes that consist of patches of suitable habitat, the frequency and extent of long-distance seed dispersal can be expected to be an important factor determining local genetic diversity and regional population structure of the remaining populations. In plant species that are restricted to riparian habitats, rivers can be expected to have a strong impact on the dynamics and spatial genetic structure of populations as they may enable long-distance seed dispersal and thus maintain gene flow between fragmented populations. In this study, we used polymorphic microsatellite markers to investigate the genetic diversity and the spatial genetic structure of 28 populations of Saxifraga granulata along two rivers in central Belgium. We hypothesized that rivers might be essential for gene flow among increasingly isolated populations of this species. Genetic diversity was high (HS = 0.68), which to a certain extent can be explained by the octoploid nature of S. granulata in the study area. Populations along the Dijle and Demer rivers were also highly differentiated (G”ST = 0.269 and 0.164 and DEST = 0.190 and 0.124, respectively) and showed significant isolation-by-distance, indicating moderate levels of gene flow primarily between populations that are geographically close to each other. Along the river Demer population genetic diversity was higher upstream than downstream, suggesting that seed dispersal via the water was not the primary mode of dispersal. Overall, these results indicate that despite increasing fragmentation populations along both rivers were highly genetically diverse. The high ploidy level and longevity of S. granulata have most likely buffered negative effects of fragmentation on genetic diversity and the spatial genetic structure of populations in riparian grasslands.

Usage Notes

Location

Belgium
Europe