Wood sedge (Carex sylvatica) is a well-known ancient woodland species with a long-term persistent seed bank and a caespitose growth habit. All thirteen isolated Carex sylvatica populations in the Dutch Rhine floodplain (including the river branches Waal and IJssel) were mapped in detail and analysed for genetic variation at a large number of AFLP loci and one microsatellite locus. Across all populations, only 40 % of the sampled individuals (n = 216) represented a unique genotype. A high number of the studied patches (spatial clusters of tussocks, 2 - 10 m in diameter) within populations contained only one or a few genotypes. Identical plants (tussocks) were also found 20 - 500 m apart and in one case even 1000 m apart. Observed heterozygosity levels (HO= 0.029) were low, indicating low levels of gene flow, which is in agreement with the selfing nature of other caespitose sedges. Although the number of genotypes in populations is low, these genotypes are genetically very distinct and variation within populations accounted for 55 % of the total variation. The absence of a correlation between genetic and geographic distances among populations, and the scattered distribution of genotypes among patches within woodlands, support our hypothesis of rare establishments and subsequent local dispersal within woodlands in this forest floor species, which may benefit from and partly depend on human land use and forest management activities.
- aflp markers