Predicting local adaptation in fragmented plant populations: implications for restoration genetics



Melinda Pickup, Institute of Science and Technology Austria, AM Campus 1, Klosterneuburg, 3400, Austria.

Tel: +43 2243 9000 3008;

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Understanding patterns and correlates of local adaptation in heterogeneous landscapes can provide important information in the selection of appropriate seed sources for restoration. We assessed the extent of local adaptation of fitness components in 12 population pairs of the perennial herb Rutidosis leptorrhynchoides (Asteraceae) and examined whether spatial scale (0.7–600 km), environmental distance, quantitative (QST) and neutral (FST) genetic differentiation, and size of the local and foreign populations could predict patterns of adaptive differentiation. Local adaptation varied among populations and fitness components. Including all population pairs, local adaptation was observed for seedling survival, but not for biomass, while foreign genotype advantage was observed for reproduction (number of inflorescences). Among population pairs, local adaptation increased with QST and local population size for biomass. QST was associated with environmental distance, suggesting ecological selection for phenotypic divergence. However, low FST and variation in population structure in small populations demonstrates the interaction of gene flow and drift in constraining local adaptation in R. leptorrhynchoides. Our study indicates that for species in heterogeneous landscapes, collecting seed from large populations from similar environments to candidate sites is likely to provide the most appropriate seed sources for restoration.