Plant Ecology and Evolution 148(3): 329-334, doi: 10.5091/plecevo.2015.1101
Perspectives for genetic rescue of the extremely fragmented Primula vulgaris populations in The Netherlands: reflecting the future of Belgian populations?
expand article infoAnja Van Geert, Fabienne Van Rossum, Ludwig Triest
Open Access
Background and aims – Due to habitat fragmentation and degradation many plant species have been led to near extinction, remaining as a few extremely small and isolated populations. Preserving such remnant populations requires the most appropriate management strategies to apply in complementarity with the usual habitat restoration. These require an adequately evaluated genetic and demographic status. Methods – We investigated population genetic variation of three remnant populations of Primula vulgaris (Noord-Drenthe, The Netherlands) using six microsatellite loci, for comparison with fifteen populations from Flanders (Belgium), showing similar fragmentation history and population sizes. Key Results – Noord-Drenthe populations show lower genetic variation and higher between-population genetic differentiation, but lower F IS values than populations from Flanders. This suggests stronger genetic erosion and gene flow disruption than in Flanders, but also a substantial genetic diversity retained by old-aged individuals, contributing to maintain low levels of inbreeding. Such a situation might await P. vulgaris in Flanders in the future. Conclusions – Given the very small number and size of populations, a genetic rescue programme is needed through active reinforcements of the existing populations and creation of new populations. Seedlings used for rescue can be obtained from seeds collected in the field, but also from outcrosses between remnant populations, to maximize genetic diversity.