Abstract: A joint demographic and population genetics stage‐based model for a subdivided population was applied to Gentiana pneumonanthe, an early successional perennial herb, at a regional (metapopulation) scale. We used numerical simulations to determine the optimal frequency of habitat disturbance (sod cutting) and the intensity of gene flow among populations of G. pneumonanthe to manage both population viability and genetic diversity in this species. The simulations showed that even small populations that initially had near‐equal allele frequencies could, if managed properly through sod cutting every 6 to 7 years, sustain their high genetic variation over the long run without gene flow. The more the allele frequencies in the small populations are skewed, however, the higher the probability that in the absence of gene flow, some alleles will be lost and within‐population genetic variation will decrease even under proper management. This implies that although local population dynamics should be the major target for management, regional dynamics become important when habitat fragmentation and decreased population size lead to the loss of local genetic diversity. The recommended strategy to improve genetic composition of small populations is the introduction of seeds or seedlings of nonlocal origin.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Apr 1, 2005
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