Current issue: 54(4)
Under compilation: 54(5)
In the present study, the impact of geographical isolation and habitat conditions on genetic diversity and sexual reproduction was tested in four relict populations of dwarf birch Betula nana L. in Poland and Belarus. Amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) method revealed that the endangered central European stands were not genetically extirpated compared with the widespread localities from Finland and Russia, which can result from infrequent outcrossing events in long-living clonal populations. However, genetic clustering methods indicated significant differentiation of the Polish populations because of their small sizes and long-term geographical isolation. Considerable numbers of empty seeds were observed in both relict and central locations, although fully developed seeds germinated better in widespread populations. Analysis of groundwater chemical parameters indicated that two relict populations were significantly different from the remaining samples with respect to pH, electrical conductivity and concentrations of phosphorus ions, which can also influence the efficiency of sexual reproduction. In the light of results obtained it seems that endangered B. nana localities are relatively stable.
Oceanic archipelagos provide an important platform from which to evaluate the effects of isolation and fragmentation on the genetic structure of species. As a result of oceanic isolation, such species usually show lower levels of genetic diversity and higher genetic differentiation than their mainland congeners. However, this is not necessarily the case for long distance dispersal species, whose genetic structure is not strictly defined by population isolation. We assessed the level and distribution of genetic diversity among Canarian populations of Juniperus turbinata in order to evaluate the influence of population isolation on its genetic structure. Using Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism markers, we analyzed molecular diversity among 175 individuals from five populations occurring across the Canary Island and three Moroccan populations. Principal Coordinate Analysis, neighbor joining clustering, AMOVA and Bayesian-based analysis were applied to examine population structure. Despite the documented habitat loss and decline in Canarian populations, Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism markers revealed levels of intra-population genetic diversity that were similar to those from mainland populations, and low levels of genetic differentiation. Bayesian analysis of population structure showed three main clusters, one comprising El Hierro population and a few individuals from several islands, a second cluster that grouped the remaining Canarian populations together, and a third cluster grouping Moroccan populations. Our results suggest that the main force driving the genetic structure of Canarian populations of J. turbinata is its capacity for long distance dispersal.