Local adaptation across a climatic gradient despite small effective population size in the rare sapphire rockcress.

Conference Paper

When assigning conservation priorities in endangered species, two common management strategies seek to protect remnant populations that (i) are the most genetically divergent or (ii) possess the highest diversity at neutral genetic markers. These two approaches assume that variation in molecular markers reflects variation in ecologically important traits and ignore the possibility of local adaptation among populations that show little divergence or variation at marker loci. Using common garden experiments, we demonstrate that populations of the rare endemic plant Arabis fecunda are physiologically adapted to the local microclimate. Local adaptation occurs despite (i) the absence of divergence at almost all marker loci and (ii) very small effective population sizes, as evidenced by extremely low levels of allozyme and DNA sequence polymorphism. Our results provide empirical evidence that setting conservation priorities based exclusively on molecular marker diversity may lead to the loss of locally adapted populations.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • McKay, JK; Bishop, JG; Lin, JZ; Richards, JH; Sala, A; Mitchell-Olds, T

Published Date

  • August 2001

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 268 / 1477

Start / End Page

  • 1715 - 1721

PubMed ID

  • 11506685

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC1088799

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1471-2954

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0962-8452

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1098/rspb.2001.1715