Effects of population succession on demographic and genetic processes: predictions and tests in the daylily Hemerocallis thunbergii (Liliaceae)


Myong Gi Chung, Fax: +82 55 754 0086; E-mail: mgchung@nongae.gsnu.ac.kr


Spatial genetic structure within plant populations is influenced by variation in demographic processes through space and time, including a population's successional status. To determine how demographic structure and fine-scale genetic structure (FSGS) change with stages in a population's successional history, we studied Hemerocallis thunbergii (Liliaceae), a nocturnal flowering and hawkmoth-pollinated herbaceous perennial with rapid population turnover dynamics. We examined nine populations assigned to three successive stages of population succession: expansion, maturation, and senescence. We developed stage-specific expectations for within-population demographic and genetic structure, and then for each population quantified the spatial aggregation of individuals and genotypes using spatial autocorrelation methods (nonaccumulative O-ring and kinship statistics, respectively), and at the landscape level measured inbreeding and genetic structure using Wright's F-statistics. Analyses using the O-ring statistic revealed significant aggregation of individuals at short spatial scales in expanding and senescing populations, in particular, which may reflect restricted seed dispersal around maternal individuals combined with relatively low local population densities at these stages. Significant FSGS was found for three of four expanding, no mature, and only one senescing population, a pattern generally consistent with expectations of successional processes. Although allozyme genetic diversity was high within populations (mean %P = 78.9 and HE = 0.281), landscape-level differentiation among sites was also high (FST = 0.166) and all populations exhibited a significant deficit of heterozygotes relative to Hardy–Weinberg expectations (range F = 0.201–0.424, mean FIS = 0.321). Within populations, F was not correlated with the degree of FSGS, thus suggesting inbreeding due primarily to selfing as opposed to mating among close relatives in spatially structured populations. Our results demonstrate considerable variation in the spatial distribution of individuals and patterns and magnitude of FSGS in H. thunbergii populations across the landscape. This variation is generally consistent with succession-stage-specific differences in ecological processes operating within these populations.