The importance of quantitative trait differentiation in restoration: landscape heterogeneity and functional traits inform seed transfer guidelines

Zebadiah G. Yoko, Kate L. Volk, Ned A. Dochtermann, Jill A. Hamilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


For widely distributed species, understanding the scale over which genetic variation correlates to landscape structure and composition is critical. Particularly within the context of restoration, the evolution of genetic differences may impact success if seeds are maladapted to the restoration environment. In this study, we used Geum triflorum to quantify the scale over which genetic differences for quantitative traits important to adaptation have evolved, comparing the proportion of variance attributed to broad regional- and local population-level effects. Geum triflorum is a widely distributed species spanning a range of environments, including alvar and prairie habitats, which have extreme regional differences in soil-moisture availability. Alvar habitats are regions of thin soil over limestone that experience substantial seasonal variation in water availability, from flooding to desiccation annually. This contrasts with prairie habitats, whose deeper soils mitigate irregular flood-desiccation cycles. Using a common garden experiment, we evaluated 15 traits broadly grouped into three trait classes: resource allocation, stomatal characteristics, and leaf morphological traits for individuals sourced from prairie and alvar environments. We quantified the proportion of trait variance explained by regional- and population-scale effects and compared the proportion of regional- and population-trait variances explained across trait classes. Significant regional differentiation was observed for the majority of quantitative traits; however, population-scale effects were equal or greater than regional effects, suggesting that important genetic differences may have evolved across the finer population scale. Stomatal and resource allocation trait classes exhibited substantial regional differentiation relative to morphological traits, which may indicate increased strength of selection for stomatal and resource allocation traits relative to morphological traits. These patterns point towards the value in considering the scale over which genetic differences may have evolved for widely distributed species and identify different functional trait classes that may be valuable in establishing seed transfer guidelines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Plant Science


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