Plant dispersal in the sub-Antarctic inferred from anisotropic genetic structure

Céline Born, Peter C. Le Roux, Colin Spohr, Melodie A. McGeoch, Bettine Jansen Van Vuuren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Climatic conditions and landscape features often strongly affect species' local distribution patterns, dispersal, reproduction and survival and may therefore have considerable impacts on species' fine-scale spatial genetic structure (SGS). In this study, we demonstrate the efficacy of combining fine-scale SGS analyses with isotropic and anisotropic spatial autocorrelation techniques to infer the impact of wind patterns on plant dispersal processes. We genotyped 1304 Azorella selago (Apiaceae) specimens, a wind-pollinated and wind-dispersed plant, from four populations distributed across sub-Antarctic Marion Island. SGS was variable with Sp values ranging from 0.001 to 0.014, suggesting notable variability in dispersal distance and wind velocities between sites. Nonetheless, the data supported previous hypotheses of a strong NW-SE gradient in wind strength across the island. Anisotropic autocorrelation analyses further suggested that dispersal is strongly directional, but varying between sites depending on the local prevailing winds. Despite the high frequency of gale-force winds on Marion Island, gene dispersal distance estimates (σ) were surprisingly low (<10 m), most probably because of a low pollen dispersal efficiency. An SGS approach in association with isotropic and anisotropic analyses provides a powerful means to assess the relative influence of abiotic factors on dispersal and allow inferences that would not be possible without this combined approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-194
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


  • Azorella selago
  • Marion Island
  • SGS
  • anisotropic spatial autocorrelations
  • wind-dispersal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Plant dispersal in the sub-Antarctic inferred from anisotropic genetic structure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this