We investigated clonal population structure and genetic variation in Quercus havardii (sand-shinnery oak), a deciduous rhizomatous shrub that dominates vegetation by forming uninterrupted expanses of ground cover over sandy deposits on the plains of western Texas, western Oklahoma, and eastern New Mexico. Isozyme electrophoresis (15 loci coding 11 enzymes) was used to recognize and map clones arrayed in a 2000-m transect (50-m sample intervals) and a 200 × 190 m grid (10-m sample intervals). Ninety-four clones were discovered, 38 in the transect and 56 in the grid, resulting in an estimated density of ∼15 clones per hectare. Clones varied greatly in size (∼100–7000 m 2 ), shape, and degree of fragmentation. The larger clones possessed massive interiors free of intergrowth by other clones, while the smaller clones varied in degree of intergrowth. The population maintained substantial levels of genetic variation ( P = 60%, A = 2.5, H exp= 0.289) comparable to values obtained for other Quercus spp. and for other long-lived perennials. The population was outcrossing as evidenced by conformance of most loci to Hardy-Weinberg expected genotype proportions, although exceptions indicated a limited degree of population substructuring. These data indicate that despite apparent reproduction primarily through vegetative means, Q. havardii possesses conventional attributes of a sexual population.
- genetic variation
- population structure