Local adaptation and gene flow in Empetrum hermaphroditum, a keystone species of boreal-arctic ecosystems, along an altitudinal stress gradient.
Scientistc involved: M.Sc. Miriam Bienau, apl. Prof. Dr. Lutz Eckstein, Prof. Dr. Dr. Annette Otte (JLU), Dr. Walter Durka (Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research Halle-Leipzig, Dr. Bente Graae (Trondheim University Norway), Dr. Ann Milbau (Umeå University, Sweden)
Project description: Patterns and processes within the biosphere are currently under a number of pressures from global change. To understand and predict the potential response of plant species to these rapidly changing conditions it is necessary to analyse factors controlling adaptation, distribution and abundance. However, there is a lack of empirical studies concerning the influence of interactions between divergent selection and gene flow on local adaptation, especially for species in large continuous populations. In arctic areas, snow cover represents a complex but very strong selection gradient with significant effects on the growth, phenology and reproduction of plants. The research project will address the effects of selection, gene flow and genetic drift on local adaptation and genetic structure of Empetrum hermaphroditum Hagerup, an important driver of boreal and arctic ecosystems. The main aim will be to understand how selection and gene flow in this wind-pollinated plant affect its adaptation to habitat types with deep and shallow snow cover in continuous populations. To this end, we will (I) study local adaptation in habitats differing in snow cover, (II) compare the phenology of flowering and the shoot growth of the species at different points along altitudinal snow cover gradients, and analyse (III) the genetic structure and (IV) the clonal structure of the species.
Funding: DFG (2012-2015)
- Bienau, M.J., Hattermann, D., Kröncke, M., Kretz, L., Otte, A., Eiserhardt, W.L., Milbau, A., Graae, B.J., Durka, W., Eckstein, R.L. 2014: Snow cover consistently affects growth and reproduction of Empetrum hermaphroditum across latitudinal and local climatic gradients. - Alpine Botany 124: 115-129.
- Bienau, M.J., Kröncke, M., Eiserhardt, W.L., Otte, A., Graae, B.J., Hagen, D., Milbau, A., Durka, W., Eckstein, R.L. 2015: Synchronous flowering despite differences in snowmelt among habitats of Empetrum hermaphroditum. - Acta Oecologica 69: 129-136.