Phylogeographic patterns and migration history of Garry oak (Quercus garryana) in western North America

Date

2019-08-19

Authors

Kanne, Rande

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Abstract

Garry oak (Quercus garryana Douglas ex. Hook) is a white oak (Quercus sect. Quercus) with a geographic range extending from southwestern BC to south-central California. It is the only native white oak in BC and Washington, and is the northernmost species of the California Floristic Province-Pacific Northwest white oak clade. I used molecular methods to address the following questions: 1) What are the patterns of genetic variation within Garry oak? 2) How do these patterns vary geographically, and how did the spatial distribution of the gene lineages come to occupy its current geographical range? 3) Does Garry oak show evidence of genetic interaction with other white oak species in western North America? 4) Is there morphological or genetic evidence to support the three described varieties of Garry oak? I obtained samples of Garry oak from 117 localities over its geographic range, as well as samples of two other California white oaks (Q. lobata and Q. douglasii) and a Rocky Mountain species (Q. gambelii). Analyses of DNA sequence data from four plastid DNA regions revealed 24 distinct molecular variants (haplotypes) in Garry oak. These show a strong south-to-north decrease in genetic diversity, consistent with post-glacial northward expansion. Haplotypes present in the northern part of the range provide evidence of two separate northward migrations, only one of which reached the northern range limit of Garry oak in BC. I found that Garry oak shared plastid DNA haplotypes with two other white oak species, indicating that it hybridizes with other oaks in the southern part of its range. The nuclear ribosomal ITS phylogeny showed poor resolution, but both cpDNA and nrDNA may indicate that Q. garryana is more closely related to the white oaks of central North America than was previously thought. My findings also suggest that the three currently recognized varieties of Garry oak (var. garryana, breweri and semota) are not well differentiated genetically, but show morphological variation at the regional level. This study shows the phylogeographic patterns within Q. garryana. In addition, it contributes to conservation efforts in Garry oak ecosystems by indicating regions of high genetic diversity in Garry oak, including genetically unique populations that may be especially worthy of preservation.

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Keywords

Garry oak, Quercus garryana, phylogeography, western North America, Pacific Northwest, plastid haplotypes, Internal Transcribed Spacer, ITS

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