Genetic connectivity and inter-population seed dispersal of Banksia hookeriana at the landscape scale
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Background and Aims: Landscape genetics combines approaches from population genetics and landscape ecology, increasing the scope for conceptual advances in biology. Banksia hookeriana comprises clusters of individuals located on dune crests (geographical populations) physically separated by uninhabitable swales, with local extinctions common through frequent fire and/or severe drought. Methods: A landscape genetics approach was used to explore landscape-scale genetic connectivity and structure among geographical populations of B. hookeriana on 18 physically separated dunes located within a heterogeneous landscape of 3 × 5 km. These geographical populations were separated by approx. 0·1 to >1 km of unsuitable intervening swale habitat. Using 11 highly variable microsatellite loci, we utilized a Bayesian approach to identify genetic discontinuities within and between these geographical populations. Population allocation tests were then used to detect inter-dune seed dispersal inferred from assignment of individuals to a source population other than that from which they were collected.Key Results: For the modal number of genetically distinct clusters (n = 17 genetic populations), two coincided with the geographical (dune) populations, eight spanned two to four geographical populations, and the remaining seven were spread among various parts of the sampled dunes, so that most geographical populations were spatially defined mosaics of individuals (subpopulations) belonging to two or more genetic populations. We inferred 25 inter-dune immigrants among the 582 individuals assessed, with an average distance between sink and source dunes of 1·1 km, and a maximum of 3·3 km. Conclusions: The results show that genetic structure in an apparently strongly spatially structured landscape is not solely dependent on landscape structure, and that many physically defined geographical populations were genetic mosaics. More strikingly, there were physically separated individuals and groups of individuals that were part of the same genetically defined populations. We attribute this mismatch between spatially and genetically defined population structure to the varying closeness of the dunes and the ability of seeds to disperse long distances.
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