Limiting inbreeding in disjunct and isolated populations of a woody shrub

Jane F. Sampson, Margaret Byrne, Neil Gibson, Colin Yates

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    14 Citations (Scopus)
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    Pollen movements and mating patterns are key features that influence population genetic structure. When gene flow is low, small populations are prone to increased genetic drift and inbreeding, but naturally disjunct species may have features that reduce inbreeding and contribute to their persistence despite genetic isolation. Using microsatellite loci, we investigated outcrossing levels, family mating parameters, pollen dispersal, and spatial genetic structure in three populations of Hakea oldfieldii, a fire-sensitive shrub with naturally disjunct, isolated populations prone to reduction in size and extinction following fires. We mapped and genotyped a sample of 102 plants from a large population, and all plants from two smaller populations (28 and 20 individuals), and genotyped 158–210 progeny from each population. We found high outcrossing despite the possibility of geitonogamous pollination, small amounts of biparental inbreeding, a limited number of successful pollen parents within populations, and significant correlated paternity. The number of pollen parents for each seed parent was moderate. There was low but significant spatial genetic structure up to 10 m around plants, but the majority of successful pollen came from outside this area including substantial proportions from distant plants within populations. Seed production varied among seven populations investigated but was not correlated with census population size. We suggest there may be a mechanism to prevent self-pollination in H. oldfieldii and that high outcrossing and pollen dispersal within populations would promote genetic diversity among the relatively small amount of seed stored in the canopy. These features of the mating system would contribute to the persistence of genetically isolated populations prone to fluctuations in size.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5867-5880
    Number of pages14
    JournalEcology and Evolution
    Issue number16
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


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