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A footprint of tree-genetics on the biota of the forest floor


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Barbour, RC, Baker, SC, O'Reilly-Wapstra, J ORCID: 0000-0003-4801-4412, Harvest, TM and Potts, BM 2009 , 'A footprint of tree-genetics on the biota of the forest floor' , Oikos, vol. 118, no. 12 , pp. 1917-1923 , doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2009.17609.x.

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Understanding how far the effects of genes extend beyond the phenotype of an individual or population, is fundamental
to the developing field of community genetics. We therefore assessed two geographically and genetically distinct
populations of the Australian forest tree, Eucalyptus globulus, and the existence of genetic effects on a leaf litter
invertebrate community and soil characteristics within a 15 year old common garden. Twenty trees per population were
randomly selected for felling and placement of the apical branch next to the stump. This produced a leaf litter habitat of
known genotype. Pitfall trap sampling for invertebrates, and linseed bioassay analyses of soil, were conducted within this
habitat. Two key findings emerged. Firstly, assessment of 27 invertebrate orders (57 924 individuals) revealed significant
population-level variation in leaf litter biodiversity (i.e. in community richness, abundance, composition and beta
diversity). Secondly, considerable population-level differences in soil characteristics were evident based on linseed
germination and growth responses. While recent findings in E. globulus have demonstrated consequences of genetic
variation within forest trees for organisms that interact directly (i.e. proximally) with the living tree, these findings
highlight the distal impacts that intraspecific genetic variation may have on communities and ecosystems. Such
community genetic considerations have important implications for in situ community conservation, biodiversity
management within restoration and plantation forestry, and our understanding of community-level evolutionary
interactions involving foundation species.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Barbour, RC and Baker, SC and O'Reilly-Wapstra, J and Harvest, TM and Potts, BM
Keywords: Eucalyptus globulus; tree genetics; invertebrate community; leaf litter; community genetics; foundation species;
Journal or Publication Title: Oikos
ISSN: 0030-1299
DOI / ID Number: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2009.17609.x
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