Effects of Life History Traits on Genetic Diversity in Plant Species

J. L. Hamrick, M. J. W. Godt


Seven two-trait combinations (e.g. breeding system and seed dispersal mechanism) of five life history characteristics were used to analyse interspecific variation in the level and distribution of allozyme genetic diversity in seed plants. Highly significant differences were seen among categories for all seven comparisons. Life form and breeding system had highly significant influences on genetic diversity and its distribution. Regardless of other traits, outcrossing species tended to be more genetically diverse and had less genetic differentiation among their populations. Similarly, woody plants have less among population differentiation and somewhat more genetic diversity than non-woody species with similar life history traits. An analysis of twelve plant families indicated that species within families with predominately outcrossing, woody species had more genetic diversity and less interpopulation differentiation than species within families with predominately herbaceous species.

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