Gene flow can counteract the loss of genetic diversity caused by genetic drift in small populations. For this reason, clearly understanding gene flow patterns is of the highest importance across fragmented landscapes. However, gene flow patterns are not only dependent upon the degree of spatial isolation of fragmented populations, but are also dependent upon the life-history traits of the species. Indeed, habitat fragmentation effects appear especially unpredictable for food-deceptive orchid species, because of their highly specialised seed and pollen dispersal mechanisms. In this study we used amplified fragment length polymorphism markers and subsequent parentage and spatial autocorrelation analysis to quantify the extent and the patterns of realized gene flow within and between two adjacent fragmented populations of the food-deceptive Orchis mascula. We observed considerable gene flow between both populations, occurring mainly through pollen dispersal. Seed dispersal, on the other hand, was mainly limited to the first few meters from the mother plant in both populations, although at least one among-population seed dispersal event was observed. This, in turn, resulted in a significant spatial genetic structure for both populations. Although genetic diversity was high in both populations and mainly outcrossing occurred, reproductive output was strongly skewed toward a limited number of successful adult plants. These observed patterns are likely due to the different pollinator behaviour associated with food-deceptive plants. We conclude that these populations can be considered viable under their current fragmented state.
|Publicatiestatus||Gepubliceerd - 2016|