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Genetics Section

Culley, Theresa M. [1].

Genetic effects of habitat fragmentation in urban populations of the cleistogamous herb, Viola pubescens (Violaceae).

Fragmentation of natural habitats is an increasing reality for many plant species throughout the world, often leading to changes in population genetic structure. This is especially true in urban areas where plant-pollinator interactions are more likely to be disrupted and populations are often directly impacted by human activities. The genetic effects of fragmentation in urban areas was measured in the cleistogamous herb Viola pubescens, a herbaceous perennial commonly found in the understory of temperate deciduous forests in North America. This species typically produces showy, potentially outcrossed chasmogamous flowers and automatically self-pollinated cleistogamous flowers, a feature expected to enhance population persistence in fragmented habitats. In a previous study of populations in agricultural areas of central Ohio, V. pubescens exhibited decreased genetic variation with substantial population substructuring, but urban populations remained unexamined until now. The population genetic structure of this species was quantified in six populations within the Greater Cincinnati area of Ohio, using 12 microsatellite loci. Overall, urban populations in the Cincinnati area exhibited lower levels of genetic variation than populations of the same species in agricultural areas. Despite the reproductive advantage of the cleistogamous breeding system in this species, populations still experienced detrimental genetic effects in response to habitat fragmentation, indicating the need to monitor other species that co-occur in the same forested fragments.


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Related Links:
Culley Lab Webpage


1 - University of Cincinnati, Department of Biological Sciences, 614 Rieveschl Hall, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45221, USA

Keywords:
population genetics
habitat fragmentation
Viola pubescens
microsatellites
cleistogamy.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 1-7
Location: 412/Hilton
Date: Monday, August 15th, 2005
Time: 9:30 AM
Abstract ID:256


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