Phenotypic and genotypic differentiation of Vaccinium vitis-idaea (L.) between coastal barrens and forests in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Balsdon, J.L., Smith, T.W., and Lundholm, J.T. (2011). "Phenotypic and genotypic differentiation of Vaccinium vitis-idaea (L.) between coastal barrens and forests in Nova Scotia, Canada.", Botany, 89(3), pp. 147-155. doi : 10.1139/B11-003  Access to full text

Abstract

Coastal barrens and forests are very different environments, making it surprising that some plant species grow in both habitats. Vaccinium vitis-idaea L., common in both habitats, was studied for phenotypic and genotypic differences that may correlate with the different environments. Of the measured phenotypic traits, leaf thickness demonstrated the best response to differences between habitat types. Amplified fragment length polymorphisms were used to assess the genetic diversity of 85 V. vitis-idaea plants between habitats. The overall genotypic diversity (D = 0.99) and evenness (E = 0.77) from this study were higher than that found in other studies on V. vitis-idaea, and were likely influenced by the sampling methods used. Although the harsh environment of the coastal barrens was expected to increase clonal reproduction, we found no evidence of extensive cloning in either habitat type. An AMOVA revealed that genetic variation was highest (87.8%) within populations, and that V. vitis-idaea was not genetically distinct between the coastal barrens and forests. This outcome is consistent with the hypothesis that coastal barrens and forest habitats along the Nova Scotia coast represent extremes of a successional continuum, rather than discrete plant communities.

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