• apomixis;
  • habitat differentiation;
  • hybridization;
  • isolation by distance;
  • polyploidy;
  • spatial autocorrelation;
  • Taraxacum sect Ruderalia

Abstract Ecological differentiation is widely seen as an important factor enabling the stable coexistence of closely related plants of different ploidy levels. We studied ecological and genetic differentiation between co-occurring sexual diploid and apomictic triploid Taraxacum section Ruderalia by analysing spatial patterns both in the distribution of cytotypes and in the distribution of genetic variation within and between the cytotypes. A significant relationship between ploidy level and elevation was found. This mode of ecological differentiation however, was not sufficient to explain the significant spatial structure in the distribution of diploids and triploids within the population. Strong congruence was found between the spatial genetic patterns within the diploids and within the triploids. We argue that this congruence is an indication of gene flow between neighbouring plants of different ploidy levels.