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Genetic Diversity in Chihuahuan Desert Populations of Creosotebush (Zygophyllaceae: Larrea tridentata)

Kristy L. Duran, Timothy K. Lowrey, Robert R. Parmenter and Paul O. Lewis
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 92, No. 4 (Apr., 2005), pp. 722-729
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4126204
Page Count: 8
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Genetic Diversity in Chihuahuan Desert Populations of Creosotebush (Zygophyllaceae: Larrea tridentata)
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Abstract

We examined isozyme variation in the dominant Chihuahuan Desert shrub, Larrea tridentata (creosotebush), to determine the genetic variation within and among populations, the biogeographic relationships of populations, and the potential inbreeding in the species. We surveyed 17 populations consisting of 20 to 50 individuals per population along a 1600-km north-south transect across the Chihuahuan Desert. The southernmost population was near Villa Hidalgo, Mexico, and the northernmost near Isleta Pueblo, New Mexico. All 12 isozyme loci examined were polymorphic ($H_{t} = 0.416$), with up to nine alleles per locus. Despite high levels of variation, we detected moderate inbreeding in L. tridentata populations. Most variation was found within rather than among populations ($G_{ST} = 0.118$). Furthermore, recently established populations in the northern limits of the Chihuahuan Desert did not show decreased levels of genetic variation ($H_{o} = 0.336$). A significant correlation was found between pairwise genetic and geographic distances (r = 0.305). Larrea tridentata showed and continues to show a massive range expansion into the arid and semi-arid regions of the American Southwest, but as shown by the high genetic variation, this expansion took place as a wave, rather than a series of founder events.

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