Gene diversity in a fragmented population of Briza media: grassland continuity in a landscape context

Honor C. Prentice, Mikael Lönn, Gabrielle Rosquist, Margareta Ihse, Merit Kindström

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We investigated patterns of allozyme variation in demes of the grass Briza media in semi-natural grassland fragments within a mosaic agricultural landscape on the Baltic island of Öland. In the study area, Briza is both a characteristic species of old pastures and an early colonizer of young grasslands developing on previously forested or arable sites.

2 Generalized linear models revealed that descriptors of both present landscape structure and past grassland history are significant determinants of genetic variation in the Briza demes. Genetic structure and levels of within-deme diversity are influenced by the size of grassland fragments, the type of habitat surrounding the grasslands, the size/spatial extent of the demes, the geographic position of the demes and the historical continuity of the grassland fragments.

3 Gene diversity (H) was higher in demes from grassland polygons with a high proportion of adjacent grassland, higher in the more extensive demes, and decreased northwards within the study area.

4 The negative association between the inbreeding coefficient (FIS) and grassland continuity is interpreted in terms of a two-stage colonization process: recruitment into young grasslands leads initially to spatial patchiness, but subsequent selection in maturing pastures occurs within an increasingly uniform and dense sward.

5 Despite a weak overall genetic structure (as indicated by Bayesian cluster analysis) the between-deme FST was significant. Linear discriminant analysis of within-deme allele frequencies grouped the demes according to the age and previous land-use history of their grassland polygons. The convergence of the allele frequency profiles in the younger grasslands towards those of the old grasslands is consistent with convergence of selective regimes as pastures mature towards an increasingly uniform, dense sward and characteristic species assemblage.

6 The genetic composition of demes of a grassland species appears to be influenced by the process of plant community convergence during grassland development – complementing the recent finding that convergence of species composition in experimental assemblages of grassland plants is dependent on the genotypic composition of the component species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-97
JournalJournal of Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Bibliographical note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Plant Ecology and Systematics (Closed 2011) (011004000)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Ecology


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