Water availability drives signatures of local adaptation in whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis Engelm.) across fine spatial scales of the Lake Tahoe Basin, USA

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Authors Brandon M. Lind, Christopher J. Friedline, Jill L. Wegrzyn, Patricia E. Maloney, Detlev R. Vogler, David B. Neale, Andrew J. Eckert
Journal/Conference Name Molecular Ecology
Paper Category , ,
Paper Abstract Patterns of local adaptation at fine spatial scales are central to understanding how evolution proceeds, and are essential to the effective management of economically and ecologically important forest tree species. Here, we employ single and multilocus analyses of genetic data (n = 116 231 SNPs) to describe signatures of fine-scale adaptation within eight whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis Engelm.) populations across the local extent of the environmentally heterogeneous Lake Tahoe Basin, USA. We show that despite highly shared genetic variation (FST = 0.0069), there is strong evidence for adaptation to the rain shadow experienced across the eastern Sierra Nevada. Specifically, we build upon evidence from a common garden study and find that allele frequencies of loci associated with four phenotypes (mean = 236 SNPs), 18 environmental variables (mean = 99 SNPs), and those detected through genetic differentiation (n = 110 SNPs) exhibit significantly higher signals of selection (covariance of allele frequencies) than could be expected to arise, given the data. We also provide evidence that this covariance tracks environmental measures related to soil water availability through subtle allele frequency shifts across populations. Our results replicate empirical support for theoretical expectations of local adaptation for populations exhibiting strong gene flow and high selective pressures and suggest that ongoing adaptation of many P. albicaulis populations within the Lake Tahoe Basin will not be constrained by the lack of genetic variation. Even so, some populations exhibit low levels of heritability for the traits presumed to be related to fitness. These instances could be used to prioritize management to maintain adaptive potential. Overall, we suggest that established practices regarding whitebark pine conservation be maintained, with the additional context of fine-scale adaptation.
Date of publication 2017
Code Programming Language Jupyter Notebook

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