Ecosystem consequences of plant genetic divergence with colonization of new habitat

Liam O. Mueller, Lauren C. Breza, Mark A. Genung, Christian P. Giardina, Nathan E. Stone, Lindsay C. Sidak-Loftis, Joseph D. Busch, David M Wagner, Joseph K. Bailey, Jennifer A. Schweitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

When plants colonize new habitats altered by natural or anthropogenic disturbances, those individuals may encounter biotic and abiotic conditions novel to the species, which can cause plant functional trait divergence. Over time, site-driven adaptation can give rise to population-level genetic variation, with consequences for plant community dynamics and ecosystem processes. We used a series of 3000-yr-old, lava-created forest fragments on the Island of Hawaìi to examine whether disturbance and subsequent colonization can lead to genetically differentiated populations, and where differentiation occurs, if there are ecosystem consequences of trait-driven changes. These fragments are dominated by a single tree species, Metrosideros polymorpha (Myrtaceae) or ohia, which have been actively colonizing the surrounding lava flow created in 1858. To test our ideas about differentiation of genetically determined traits, we (1) created rooted cuttings of ohia individuals sampled from fragment interiors and open lava sites, raised these individuals in a greenhouse, and then used these cuttings to create a common garden where plant growth was monitored for three years; and (2) assessed genetic variation and made QST/FST comparisons using microsatellite repeat markers. Results from the greenhouse showed quantitative trait divergence in plant height and pubescence across plants sampled from fragment interior and matrix sites. Results from the subsequent common garden study confirmed that the matrix environment can select for individuals with 9.1% less shoot production and 17.3% higher leaf pubescence. We found no difference in molecular genetic variation indicating gene flow among the populations. The strongest QST level was greater than the FST estimate, indicating sympatric genetic divergence in growth traits. Tree height was correlated with ecosystem properties such as soil carbon and nitrogen storage, soil carbon turnover rates, and soil phosphatase activity, indicating that selection for growth traits will influence structure, function, and dynamics of developing ecosystems. These data show that divergence can occur on centennial timescales of early colonization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01743
JournalEcosphere
Volume8
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2017

Fingerprint

lava
plant genetics
colonization
divergence
genetic variation
ecosystems
ecosystem
habitat
growth traits
habitats
soil carbon
Metrosideros polymorpha
garden
greenhouses
soil
carbon
Myrtaceae
disturbance
quantitative traits
ornamental plants

Keywords

  • Colonization
  • Divergence
  • Functional plant traits
  • Kipuka
  • Metrosideros polymorpha
  • Selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

Cite this

Mueller, L. O., Breza, L. C., Genung, M. A., Giardina, C. P., Stone, N. E., Sidak-Loftis, L. C., ... Schweitzer, J. A. (2017). Ecosystem consequences of plant genetic divergence with colonization of new habitat. Ecosphere, 8(5), [e01743]. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.1743

Ecosystem consequences of plant genetic divergence with colonization of new habitat. / Mueller, Liam O.; Breza, Lauren C.; Genung, Mark A.; Giardina, Christian P.; Stone, Nathan E.; Sidak-Loftis, Lindsay C.; Busch, Joseph D.; Wagner, David M; Bailey, Joseph K.; Schweitzer, Jennifer A.

In: Ecosphere, Vol. 8, No. 5, e01743, 01.05.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Mueller, LO, Breza, LC, Genung, MA, Giardina, CP, Stone, NE, Sidak-Loftis, LC, Busch, JD, Wagner, DM, Bailey, JK & Schweitzer, JA 2017, 'Ecosystem consequences of plant genetic divergence with colonization of new habitat', Ecosphere, vol. 8, no. 5, e01743. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.1743
Mueller LO, Breza LC, Genung MA, Giardina CP, Stone NE, Sidak-Loftis LC et al. Ecosystem consequences of plant genetic divergence with colonization of new habitat. Ecosphere. 2017 May 1;8(5). e01743. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.1743
Mueller, Liam O. ; Breza, Lauren C. ; Genung, Mark A. ; Giardina, Christian P. ; Stone, Nathan E. ; Sidak-Loftis, Lindsay C. ; Busch, Joseph D. ; Wagner, David M ; Bailey, Joseph K. ; Schweitzer, Jennifer A. / Ecosystem consequences of plant genetic divergence with colonization of new habitat. In: Ecosphere. 2017 ; Vol. 8, No. 5.
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