Genetic and morphological diversity of Phyllodoce empetriformis (Sw.) D. Don and Phyllodoce glanduliflora (hook.) Cov. were surveyed in Mount Rainier National Park in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Paired populations at high and low elevations were sampled at three study areas between 1720- and 2451-m elevation. Allozyme analysis of four polymorphic loci indicates high levels of genetic diversity within populations (P. empetriformis = 94.2% and P. glanduliflora = 93.4% of total diversity) and significant differences in allele frequencies among populations and study areas. Individual populations are composed of multiple clones with high ratios of local to widespread genotypes. The proportion of distinguishable clones ranges from 32 to 83% within individual populations. Within individual populations, 18-67% of genotypes were restricted to one population. Patterns of morphologic variation, estimated through measurements of leaf width, leaf length, stem extension, and plant height paralleled those displayed by allozyme analysis. Significant differences were found in leaf width and stem length for P. empetriformis and among greenhouse populations for leaf width (P. empetriformis) and leaf length (P. glanduliflora). Species conservation strategies for Phyllodoce should concentrate on the maintenance of within-population levels of diversity, protection of adjacent populations, and protection of safe sites for recruitment of new populations.
Additional publication details
Genetic and morphologic variation in 'Phyllodoce empetriformis' and 'P. glanduliflora' (Ericaceae) in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington