Abstract Detail

Conservation Biology

Di Santo, Lionel N [1], Hamilton, Jill [2].

The relationship between environmental and genetic variation: Can environmental differences among populations be used as a proxy for populations genetic differentiation?

Plant species often evolve genetic differences due to varying selective pressures across their range. Where species are locally adapted, environmental variation may explain a substantial portion of the genetic differences observed among populations. Thus, environmental variance may provide insights on the distribution of adaptive genetic diversity across a species’ range. In this study, we use previously published rangewide population genetic datasets alongside environmental data associated with provenance of origin to correlate pairwise population genetic differences with pairwise population environmental differences. The goal is to ask whether environmental differences among populations can be used as a reliable proxy for populations genetic differentiation and test the prediction that there is a positive relationship between environmental and genetic differences. To assess this relationship, we have selected a number of plant species distributed worldwide whose rangewide genetic variability has been evaluated using a number of different techniques; including SSRs, SNPs, EST-SSRs or EST-SNPs.  Within each species, among populations genetic differences are calculated using pairwise linearized Fst. To calculate within species pairwise environmental distances, we extracted more than 45 climatic variables for every population. These variables were then scaled and centred to account for differences in magnitude among variables. Environmental differences between populations pairs were calculated using a Euclidian distance formula. To assess the relationship between populations genetic differences and pairwise environmental distances, we examined the relationship between Fst values and Euclidian environmental distances for each pair of populations across the different species. We predict the relationship could take two different shapes: (1) positive (the higher the genetic difference, the higher the environmental distance), and (2) constant (environmental distances do not correlate with genetic differences). Insights into the relationship between pairwise environmental and genetic differences may be in guiding conservation priorities for the preservation of rare plants, especially for the design of ex situ collections. Particularly where species lack genetic data, environmental variability may be a useful proxy to establish ex situ conservation priorities.

1 - North Dakota State University, Biological Sciences, Dept. 2715, PO Box 6050, Fargo, ND, 58102, United States
2 - North Dakota State University, Biological Sciences, PO Box 6050, Dept. 2715, Fargo, ND, 58102, United States

environmental distance
genetic structure
conservation prioritization
environment-genetic relationship.

Presentation Type: Poster
Number: PCB009
Abstract ID:684
Candidate for Awards:None

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