Reproductive biology and population structure of the endangered shrub Grevillea bedggoodiana (Proteaceae)
journal contributionposted on 2023-07-21, 04:33 authored by Stanislaw WawrzyczekStanislaw Wawrzyczek, Gareth HolmesGareth Holmes, Susan HoebeeSusan Hoebee
Narrowly endemic species are particularly vulnerable to catastrophic events. Compared to widespread species, they may also be less capable of adapting to shifts in environmental pressures as a result of specialisation on a narrow range of local condition and limited ability to disperse. However, life-history traits, such as preferential outcrossing and high fecundity can maintain genetic diversity and evolutionary potential, and boost species resilience. The endangered Grevillea bedggoodiana (Enfield Grevillea) is an understorey shrub restricted to an area of ca. 150 km2 in south-eastern Australia with a legacy of large-scale anthropogenic disturbance. Prior to this study little was known about its biology and population structure. Here, its breeding system was assessed through a controlled pollination experiment at one of its central populations, and eight populations were sampled for genetic analysis with microsatellite markers. The species was found to be preferentially outcrossing, with no evidence of pollination limitation. In most populations, allelic richness, observed heterozygosity and gene diversity were high (Ar: 3.8–6.3; Ho: 0.45–0.65, He: 0.60 − 0.75). However, the inbreeding coefficients were significant in at least four populations, ranging from Fi -0.061 to 0.259 despite high outcrossing rates. Estimated reproductive rates varied among sampled populations but were independent of gene diversity and inbreeding. Despite its small geographic range, the species’ populations showed moderate differentiation (AMOVA: FST = 0.123), which was largely attributable to isolation by distance. We interpret these results as suggesting that G. bedggoodiana is reproductively healthy and has maintained high levels of genetic diversity despite recent disturbance.