Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1093/jpe/rtw054
Title (Primary) Genetic diversity and differentiation follow secondary succession in a multi-species study on woody plants from subtropical China
Author Hahn, C.Z.; Michalski, S.G.; Fischer, M.; Durka, W. ORCID logo
Source Titel Journal of Plant Ecology
Year 2017
Department BZF; iDiv
Volume 10
Issue 1
Page From 213
Page To 221
Language englisch
Keywords Allelic richness; population differentiation; habitat characteristics; gene flow; species–genetic diversity correlation; SGDC
UFZ wide themes RU1;


Species diversity and genetic diversity may be affected in parallel by similar environmental drivers. However, genetic diversity may also be affected independently by habitat characteristics. We aim at disentangling relationships between genetic diversity, species diversity and habitat characteristics of woody species in subtropical forest.


We studied 11 dominant tree and shrub species in 27 plots in Gutianshan, China, and assessed their genetic diversity (Ar) and population differentiation (FST) with microsatellite markers. We tested if Ar and population specific FST were correlated to local species diversity and plot characteristics. Multi-model inference and model averaging were used to determine the relative importance of each predictor. Additionally, we tested for isolation-by-distance (IBD) and isolation-by-elevation by regressing pairwise FST against pairwise spatial and elevational distances.

Important Findings

Genetic diversity was not related to species diversity for any of the study species. Thus, our results do not support joint effects of habitat characteristics on these two levels of biodiversity. Instead, genetic diversity in two understory shrubs, Rhododendron simsii and Vaccinium carlesii, was affected by plot age with decreasing genetic diversity in successionally older plots. Population differentiation increased with plot age in R. simsii and Lithocarpus glaber. This shows that succession can reduce genetic diversity within, and increase genetic diversity between populations. Furthermore, we found four cases of IBD and two cases of isolation-by-elevation. The former indicates inefficient pollen and seed dispersal by animals whereas the latter might be due to phenological asynchronies. These patterns indicate that succession can affect genetic diversity without parallel effects on species diversity and that gene flow in a continuous subtropical forest can be restricted even at a local scale.

Persistent UFZ Identifier
Hahn, C.Z., Michalski, S.G., Fischer, M., Durka, W. (2017):
Genetic diversity and differentiation follow secondary succession in a multi-species study on woody plants from subtropical China
J. Plant Ecol. 10 (1), 213 - 221 10.1093/jpe/rtw054