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Genetic differentiation in Silene dioica metapopulations: estimation of spatiotemporal effects in a successional plant species
Silene dioica is a diploid, dioecious, perennial, insect-pollinated herb and part of the deciduous phase of primary succession in Skeppsvik Archipelago, Gulf of Bothnia, Sweden. These islands are composed of material deposited and left underwater by melting ice at the end of the last ice age. A rapid and relatively constant rate of land uplift of 0.9 cm per year continually creates new islands available for colonization by plants. Because the higher deposits appear first, islands differ in age. Because it is possible to estimate the ages of islands and populations of plant species belonging to early stages of succession, the genetic dynamics occurring within an age-structured metapopulation can be investigated in this archipelago. Fifty-two island populations of S. dioica of known ages, sizes, and distances from each other were studied through electrophoretic data. A number of factors increase the degree of genetic differentiation among these island populations relative to an island model at equilibrium. Newly founded populations were more differentiated than those of intermediate age, which suggests that colonization dynamics increase genetic variance among populations. The very old populations, which decrease in size as they approach extinction, were more differentiated than intermediate-aged populations. Isolation by distance occurs in this system. Colonizers are likely to come from more than one source, and the migrant pool model best explains colonization events in the archipelago. Degree of environmental exposure also affects population differentiation.
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