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Heredity (Edinb). 2004 Sep;93(3):290-8.

Landscape genetics of alpine-snowbed plants: comparisons along geographic and snowmelt gradients.

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  • 1Graduate School of Environmental Earth Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-0810, Japan. hirao@ees.hokudai.ac.jp


The genetic structure of three snowbed-herb species (Peucedanum multivittatum, Veronica stelleri, and Gentiana nipponica) was analyzed using allozymes across nine populations arranged as a matrix of three snowmelt gradients x three geographic locations within 3 km in the Taisetsu Mountains, northern Japan. Phenologically asynchronous populations are packed within a local area in alpine snowbeds, because flowering season of alpine plants depends strongly on the timing of snowmelt. Moderate genetic differentiation was detected among local populations in every species (FST=0.03-0.07). There was a significant correlation between the geographic distance and genetic distance in the P. multivittatum populations, but not in the V. stelleri and G. nipponica populations. On the other hand, a significant correlation between the phenological distance caused by snowmelt timing and genetic distance was detected in the V. stelleri and G. nipponica populations, but not in the P. multivittatum populations. The snowmelt gradient or geographic separation influenced hierarchical genetic structure of these species moderately (FRT <0.04). Restriction of gene flow due to phenological separation and possible differential selection along the snowmelt gradient may produce genetic clines at microgeographic scale in these species.

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