Image_3_Population and Landscape Genetics Provide Insights Into Species Conservation of Two Evergreen Oaks in Qinghai–Tibet Plateau and Adjacent Regions.JPEG
The combination of population and landscape genetics can facilitate the understanding of conservation strategy under the changing climate. Here, we focused on the two most diverse and ecologically important evergreen oaks: Quercus aquifolioides and Quercus spinosa in Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau (QTP), which is considered as world’s biodiversity hotspot. We genotyped 1,657 individuals of 106 populations at 15 nuclear microsatellite loci throughout the species distribution range. Spatial patterns of genetic diversity were identified by mapping the allelic richness (AR) and locally common alleles (LCA) according to the circular neighborhood methodology. Migration routes from QTP were detected by historical gene flow estimation. The response pattern of genetic variation to environmental gradient was assessed by the genotype–environment association (GEA) analysis. The overall genetic structure showed a high level of intra-species genetic divergence of a strong west-east pattern. The West-to-East migration route indicated the complex demographic history of two oak species. We found evidence of isolation by the environment in Q. aqu-East and Q. spi-West lineage but not in Q. aqu-West and Q. spi-East lineage. Furthermore, priority for conservation should be given to populations that retain higher spatial genetic diversity or isolated at the edge of the distribution range. Our findings indicate that knowledge of spatial diversity and migration route can provide valuable information for the conservation of existing populations. This study provides an important guide for species conservation for two oak species by the integration of population and landscape genetic methods.