A major tenet in population genetics research is that the exchange of adaptively relevant genetic variants among populations in temporally variable environments increases the adaptability, and thus the stability, of the encompassing metapopulation. The objective of the proposed renewal project is to continue our investigations into the importance of this relationship and its quantification and to identify the causative mechanisms. We will continue to develop meaningful descriptors of stability in metapopulations based on previous work in the project for the purpose of validating and extending functional relationships between these measures and measures of genetic variation (diversity, differentiation, apportionment, some of which were derived during the project) for infinite populations. Whether and under what conditions these (deterministic) relationships hold under the seemingly erratic (stochastic) dynamics typical for finite populations, will be studied with the help of the stochastic metapopulation models that we developed during the project. The models and their implementations in software will be adapted and extended accordingly. This approach requires solutions to a problem that was recognized in the project to be fundamental, namely to what extent the behavior of deterministic models enables prediction of stochastic dynamics. The working program includes an extended analysis of the complex effects of fecundity, pollen and seed dispersal, survival, and environmental disturbance on genetic variation and stability in stochastic metapopulation models. Recommendations for the design and monitoring of practical measures for the conservation of forest genetic resources will be derived. Application of our work focuses on forest tree populations, which exchange genetic information mainly via the dispersal of pollen and to a lesser extent by natural and anthropogenic seed dispersal and whose long generation cycles preclude experimental studies over several generations.

Granting institution / Fördernde Institution: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
Duration /Laufzeit: 01. Juni 2015 - 31. Mai 2017

Personnel / Personen:
Ziehe, Martin (Applicant / Antragsteller)
Gillet, Elizabeth M. (Co-worker / Bearbeiterin)
Gregorius, Hans-Rolf (Cooperation partner / Kooperationspartner)

Link to project in / Verweis auf Projekt in GEPRIS (Geförderte Projekte der DFG)