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Biodiversity consequences of genetic variation in bark characteristics within a foundation tree species


Barbour, RC and Forster, LG and Baker, SC and Steane, DA and Potts, BM, Biodiversity consequences of genetic variation in bark characteristics within a foundation tree species, Conservation Biology, 23, (5) pp. 1146-1155. ISSN 0888-8892 (2009) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01247.x


The developing field of community genetics has the potential to broaden the contribution of genetics to conservation biology by demonstrating that genetic variation within foundation plant species can act to structure associated communities of microorganisms, invertebrates, and vertebrates. We assessed the biodiversity consequences of natural patterns of intraspecific genetic variation within the widely distributed Australian forest tree, Eucalyptus globulus.We assessed genetic variation among geographic races of E. globulus (i.e., provenances, seed zones) in the characteristics of tree-trunk bark in a 17-year-old common garden and the associated response of a dependent macroarthropod community. In total, 180 macroarthropod taxa were identified following a collection from 100 trees of five races. We found substantial genetically based variation within E. globulus in the quantity and type of decorticating bark. In the community of organisms associated with this bark, significant variation existed among trees of different races in composition, and there was a two-fold difference in species richness (714 species) and abundance (2255 individuals) among races. This community variation was tightly linked with genetically based variation in bark, with 60% of variation in community composition driven by bark characteristics. No detectable correlation was found, however, with neutral molecular markers. These community-level effects of tree genetics are expected to extend to higher trophic levels because of the extensive use of tree trunks as foraging zones by birds and marsupials. Our results demonstrate the potential biodiversity benefits that may be gained through conservation of intraspecific genetic variation within broadly distributed foundation species. The opportunities for enhancing biodiversity values of forestry and restoration plantings are also highlighted because such planted forests are increasingly becoming the dominant forest type in many areas of the world.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Genetics
Research Field:Genetics not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Barbour, RC (Dr Robert Barbour)
UTAS Author:Forster, LG (Ms Lynne Forster)
UTAS Author:Baker, SC (Dr Sue Baker)
UTAS Author:Steane, DA (Dr Dorothy Steane)
UTAS Author:Potts, BM (Professor Brad Potts)
ID Code:61752
Year Published:2009
Web of Science® Times Cited:29
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2010-03-05
Last Modified:2014-12-17

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