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Patterns of clonal diversity in three species of sub-arctic willow (Salix lanata, Salix lapponum and Salix herbacea)

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Sub-arctic willow scrub is an endangered habitat in Britain, and typically occurs on steep crags inaccessible to grazing animals. These willows can reproduce both sexually and asexually, although the relative importance of each is unknown. Knowledge of reproductive mode is important for the design of grazing management and restoration programmes. Accordingly, clonality was assessed in the largest stand of sub-arctic willow scrub in the UK, focusing on Salix lanata and S. lapponum. Little evidence of clonal growth was detected; most individuals possessed distinct multi-locus genotypes. Thus despite the capacity for vegetative reproduction, and seedlings being rarely observed, sexual reproduction is the predominant means of perpetuation and dispersal at this site. We also examined clonal growth in a common willow species (Salix herbacea) that occupies a different habitat type (exposed mountain tops and ridges). Multiple individuals shared identical genotypes up to 7 m apart, suggesting an important role for clonal growth in local patch formation in this species.

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Correspondence to K. Stamati.

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Stamati, K., Hollingsworth, P. & Russell, J. Patterns of clonal diversity in three species of sub-arctic willow (Salix lanata, Salix lapponum and Salix herbacea). Plant Syst. Evol. 269, 75–88 (2007).

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