Genetic differentiation between populations of the moss Hylocomium splendens from low versus high elevation in the Scandinavian mountain range
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To test the genetic relationship between alpine and subalpine forms of Hylocomium splendens, pairwise sampling was undertaken of populations from four areas, representing the southern and northern ranges of the Scandes. From each population I sampled 75 shoots in a hierarchical fashion, and these were screened for variation at 12 allozyme loci. The pairwise genetic identity (I) among subalpine and alpine populations was, respectively, 0.970 and 0.972, versus 0.946 between the altitudinal groups. This suggests that populations from subalpine and alpine zones are genetically differentiated. The total gene diversity (HT) based on polymorphic loci was slightly higher for alpine populations (0.330) than for subalpine populations (0.244), whereas the relative differentiation among populations (GST) was lower for alpine populations (0.054) than for subalpine populations (0.080). The number of observed clones was high in all populations, ranging from 18 to 29. Mean number of recorded haplotypes within 10x10 cm patches was higher in alpine populations than in subalpine populations, which in part could be explained by the nearly double ramet density in the former. I conclude that two main genetic variants of Hylocomium splendens, with different climate associations, occur in Scandinavia.