Two sympatric spotted gum species are molecularly homogeneous

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Ochieng, JW, Shepherd, M, Baverstock, PR, Nikles, DG, Lee, DJ & Henry, RJ 2010, 'Two sympatric spotted gum species are molecularly homogeneous', Conservation Genetics, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 45-56.

The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10592-009-0001-3

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Large fruited spotted gum eucalypt Corymbia henryi occurs sympatrically with small fruited spotted gum Corymbia citriodora subspecies variegata over a large portion of its range on the east coast of Australia. The two taxa are interfertile, have overlapping flowering times and share a common set of insect and vertebrate pollinators. Previous genetic analysis of both taxa from two geographically remote sites suggested that the two were morphotypes rather than genetically distinct species. In this study we further explore this hypothesis of genic species by expanding sampling broadly through their sympatric locations and examine local-scale spatial genetic structure in stands that differ in species and age composition. Delineation of populations at five microsatellite loci, using an individual-based approach and Bayesian modelling, as well as clustering of individuals based on allele frequencies showed the two species to be molecularly homogeneous. Genetic structure aligned largely with geographic areas of origin, and followed an isolation-by-distance model, where proximal populations were generally less differentiated than more distant ones. At the stand level, spotted gums also generally showed little structure consistent with the high levels of gene flow inferred across the species range. Disturbances in the uniformity of structuring were detected, however, and attributed to localised events giving rise to even aged stands, probably due to regeneration from a few individuals following fire.

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