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Habitat Fragmentation and its effect on genetic diversity in beech populations in Central Italy

Habitat Fragmentation and its effect on genetic diversity in beech populations in Central Italy

An article entitled, “Effect of Habitat Fragmentation on the Genetic Diversity and Structure of Peripheral Populations of Beech in Central Italy by Paolo Menozzi and associates was published online in April 11 in J. Hered. (2012) 103(3): 408-417. The authors assayed 11 isozyme loci in 856 individuals in 27 marginal populations of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) in Central Italy. They divided their experimental populations into 3 groups showing an increasing level of fragmentation. The genetic variability in the most fragmented group, was found to be slightly smaller within-population compared to that observed among populations where differentiation was significantly larger. The results support the role of random genetic drift having a larger impact on the most fragmented group. On the other hand, gene flow seems to balance genetic drift in the 2 less fragmented populations. Their experimental data suggest that gene flow is effective, even at relatively long distances, in balancing the effect of fragmentation if population size is not too small and that gene flow is effective even at relatively long distances in maintaining a balance the effect of fragmentation if population size is not too small. These results support the role of random genetic drift having a larger impact on the most fragmented groups. They have concluded that the gene flow is effective even at relatively long distances in balancing the effect of fragmentation in a relatively  large population size .

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