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Task 2.3. Clonality and ecosystem resilience

Task lead: Lucienne de Witte, UNIBAS - Botanical Institute of the University of Basel, Switzerland

In this task, the clonal diversity and genet longevity in populations of the four arctic-alpine plant species Carex curvula, Dryas octopetala, Salix herbacea and Vaccinium uliginosum was analysed. Using amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) data, the authors demonstrate that genet size ranged from a few centimeters to 18 metres and age estimates for the largest genets ranged from 500 to 4900 years. These data reveal that clonally reproducing populations include individuals that have outlived significant changes in climate. Despite the longevity of some individuals, clonal diversity within populations was high, with most individuals existing as small, relatively young genets. Long-lived individuals, together with high numbers of younger plants, ensure repeated recruitment and population persistence over time. 
  • de Witte, L.C., Armbruster, G.J.F., Gielly, L., Taberlet, P., Stöcklin, J. 2012. AFLP markers reveal high clonal diversity and extreme longevity in four arctic-alpine key species. Molecular Ecology 21: 1081–1097.

  • de Witte L.C., Stöcklin J. 2012. Horizontal growth in arctic-alpine clonal plants is not affected by climatic variability among regions. Plant Ecology and Diversity, GMBA special issue.

  • de Witte, L.C., Stöcklin, J. 2010. Longevity of clonal plants: why it matters and how to measure it. Annals of Botany 106: 859–870.

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