Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems

The Mating System and Genetic Diversity of the Australian Arid Zone Mallee, Eucalyptus rameliana

JF Sampson, SD Hopper and SH James

Australian Journal of Botany 43(5) 461 - 474
Published: 1995


Estimates of parameters of the mixed mating model were made for three populations of the bird-pollinated arid zone eucalypt, Eucalyptus rameliana F. Muell. Levels of outcrossing ((t) over cap) varied significantly between populations from mixed mating with substantial selfing ((t) over cap = 0.54) to almost completely outcrossed ((t) over cap = 0.95). Comparison of single-locus and multilocus estimates suggested that the drop in outcrossing was due to increased self-pollination. The lowest outcrossing rate was attributed to the reduced ability of a population with low numbers of buds to attract bird pollinators. Outcrossing rates in E. rameliana are proposed to be a more direct reflection of pollination than estimates made for mass flowering, i.e. small-fruited eucalypts. The distribution of allozyme diversity in E. rameliana also appeared to reflect the impact of bird pollinators in promoting gene flow as well as the species capacity for outcrossing and introgression. Levels of diversity were comparable with other eucalypts, but the proportion of diversity between populations (GST = 9.2%) was only about half the mean for other eucalypts. Genetic distances between populations were low, but there was same significant differentiation of populations which was attributed to non-random bird migrations. The importance of bird pollination in the mating system and the distribution of genetic diversity in E. rameliana emphasises that enough habitat to support nomadic birds should be preserved in order to conserve this eucalypt species.

© CSIRO 1995

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