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Am J Bot. 2008 May;95(5):588-96. doi: 10.3732/ajb.2007316.

Comparison of population genetic diversity between a rare, narrowly distributed species and a common, widespread species of Alnus (Betulaceae).

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  • 1Department of Botany and Microbiology, Department of Zoology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma 73019 USA.


Comparisons of population genetic diversity between related rare and widespread species provide valuable insights to the consequences of rarity and are critical for conservation planning. Population genetic diversity of A. maritima, a rare species, was compared with its common, widespread congener A. serrulata to evaluate the impacts of small population size and high isolation on genetic diversity in A. maritima and to provide population genetic data to be used in conservation planning for A. maritima. Genetic data were also used to evaluate whether the disjunct distribution of A. maritima was due to range reduction or anthropogenic dispersal. Genetic diversity was lower in A. maritima (H(e) = 0.217) than in A. serrulata (H(e) = 0.268), and there is also higher inbreeding within A. maritima populations (f = 0.483) than A. serrulata populations (f = 0.269). The partitioning of genetic variation was also higher among A. maritima populations (Θ = 0.278), but not significantly different from that of A. serrulata (Θ = 0.197). Significant genetic differences among A. maritima populations support using local populations as seed sources for regional conservation efforts. The results also indicate that the highly disjunct distribution of A. maritima is due to natural range reduction in the past and not anthropogenic establishment of Oklahoma and Georgia populations.

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