Correlations between genetic and species diversity: effects of resource quantity and heterogeneity
It is hypothesized that species and genetic diversity are correlated because niche differentiation among species and genotypes is either affected by the same processes (positive) or each level restricts the amount of diversity in the other (negative). Although many studies have observed both positive and negative relationships, others have found no correlation between the two diversity measures. Are measures of species (richness, diversity and evenness) and genetic diversity correlated, and how does resource (soil moisture, light, nitrogen and phosphorus) quantities and heterogeneity affect both levels of diversity?
Intact tallgrass prairie at Konza Prairie Biological Station, northeast Kansas, US.
We investigate the correlation between plant species and genetic diversity in a long-term precipitation manipulation experiment – the Rainfall Manipulation Plots (RaMPs) – located in intact tallgrass prairie as well as adjacent non-manipulated prairie. The RaMPs experiment has been imposing ambient and more variable precipitation regimes (a 50% increase in timing between rainfall events without changing total rainfall amount) during the growing season since 1998, resulting in reduced mean soil moisture and increased soil moisture variability. Thus, the RaMPs and non-manipulated prairie plots capture a range of soil moisture amounts and variability. Genetic diversity (measured as genotype richness and genomic dissimilarity among individuals) was quantified for the dominant grass species, Andropogon gerardii, which has large impacts on plant community structure and ecosystem function.
We found species and genetic diversity were not significantly correlated. Genotypic richness was negatively related to soil moisture variability, but measures of species diversity were not. In the non-manipulated plots only, we found generally negative relationships between resource quantity (light and nitrogen) and community diversity, and positive relationships between resource heterogeneity (CV of light) and community diversity.
Our results suggest that a lack of a positive or negative relationship between species and genetic diversity could be due to these two levels of diversity responding differently to the identity, quantity and heterogeneity of resources.