The influence of environment and life-history traits on the distribution of genes and individuals: a comparative study of 11 rainforest trees

Rossetto, M., Crayn, D., Ford, A., Mellick, R., and Sommerville, K. (2009) The influence of environment and life-history traits on the distribution of genes and individuals: a comparative study of 11 rainforest trees. Molecular Ecology, 18. pp. 1422-1438.

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Abstract

This study investigates patterns of genetic connectivity among 11 co-distributed tropical rainforest tree species from the genus Elaeocarpus across a biogeographic barrier, the Black Mountain Corridor (BMC) in the Australian Wet Tropics (AWT). We analysed a combination of allelic and flanking region sequence data from microsatellite markers, and evaluated the relative influence of environmental preferences and functional traits on genetic diversity and gene flow. The results indicate that only in three species geographic structuring of haplotype distribution reflects a north vs. south of the BMC pattern. Environmental factors linked with altitude were recognized as affecting genetic trends, but the selective processes operating on upland species appear to be associated with competitiveness and regeneration opportunities on poor soil types rather than climate variables alone. In contrast to previous observations within southeastern Australian rainforests, genetic differentiation in the AWT appears to be associated with small-fruited rather than large-fruited species, highlighting how external factors can influence the dispersal dimension. Overall, this study emphasizes the importance of considering functional and environmental factors when attempting generalizations on landscape-level patterns of genetic variation. Understanding how plant functional groups respond to environmental and climatic heterogeneity can help us predict responses to future change.

Item ID: 4834
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: Australian wet tropics, dispersal, Elaeocarpus, nuclear DNA, plant assemblages, upland refugia, tropical biology
ISSN: 1365-294X
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2009 03:36
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0604 Genetics > 060411 Population, Ecological and Evolutionary Genetics @ 60%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060299 Ecology not elsewhere classified @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960810 Mountain and High Country Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales @ 50%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 18
Downloads: Total: 2
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