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Abstract Detail

Conservation Biology

Polcz , Catherine  [1], Waterway, Marcia [2].

Comparisons of genetic and species diversity across a fragmented forest landscape.

The fragmentation of natural habitats is a defining issue of rural and urban development in southern Quebec. As natural forest habitat is reduced and subdivided into smaller, more isolated patches, environmental conditions are altered, plant population sizes become smaller, and species dispersal may be reduced. This can lead to reduced species and genetic diversity. Many studies have considered how fragmentation individually affects species diversity and genetic diversity, but few look at both measures simultaneously. With the overall goal of relating landscape structure, genetic diversity, and species diversity, we addressed the following specific questions. Do isolated communities diverge from one another in genetic identity and species assemblage? What is the relationship between genetic diversity and species diversity in this system? We assessed overall species richness in 20 forest patches ranging from one to 2000 hectares. Within each forest, we also measured species diversity of the plant community associated with Carex leptonervia by centering seven 4m² quadrats on focal C. leptonervia plants. Thirty individuals of C. leptonervia, including seven from the focal quadrats, were sampled at each site to assess genetic diversity. We characterized genetic diversity using eight microsatellite markers developed for C. leptonervia. In concordance with other studies, species richness at the forest patch level shows a strong correlation with patch area, but not with connectivity. However, species richness and diversity at the focal community level was not correlated with patch area, connectivity, patch species diversity, or soil characteristics (pH, soil texture). Genetic variation was related to forest patch size and site species diversity suggesting that fragmentation disrupts normal dispersal patterns. The genetic markers are more sensitive than species diversity metrics for revealing patterns of meta-population connectivity. The marriage of population genetics and community ecology can provide a better understanding of how landscapes and ecological processes have differing impacts on populations and their associated communities.

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1 - McGill University, Plant Science, 21,111 Lakeshore Road, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec, H9X 3V9, Canada

forest fragmentation
genetic diversity
Carex leptonervia
species richness

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Topics
Session: 27
Location: Firs North/Boise Centre
Date: Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
Time: 3:00 PM
Number: 27007
Abstract ID:481
Candidate for Awards:None

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