Population genetic analysis reveals barriers and corridors for gene flow within and among riparian populations of a rare plant

Tanya H. Hevroy, Michael L. Moody, Siegfried L. Krauss

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Landscape features and life-history traits affect gene flow, migration and drift to impact on spatial genetic structure of species. Understanding this is important for managing genetic diversity of threatened species. This study assessed the spatial genetic structure of the rare riparian Grevillea sp. Cooljarloo (Proteaceae), which is restricted to a 20 km2 region impacted by mining in the northern sandplains of the Southwest Australian Floristic Region, an international biodiversity hotspot. Within creek lines and floodplains, the distribution is largely continuous. Models of dispersal within riparian systems were assessed by spatial genetic analyses including population level partitioning of genetic variation and individual Bayesian clustering. High levels of genetic variation and weak isolation by distance within creek line and floodplain populations suggest large effective population sizes and strong connectivity, with little evidence for unidirectional gene flow as might be expected from hydrochory. Regional clustering of creek line populations and strong divergence among creek line populations suggest substantially lower levels of gene flow among creek lines than within creek lines. There was however a surprising amount of genetic admixture in floodplain populations, which could be explained by irregular flooding and/or movements by highly mobile nectar-feeding bird pollinators. Our results highlight that for conservation of rare riparian species, avoiding an impact to hydrodynamic processes, such as water tables and flooding dynamics, may be just as critical as avoiding direct impacts on the number of plants.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberplx065
JournalAOB Plants
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


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