Western columbine genetics across HJ Andrews Experimental Forest meadow communities

  • Creator(s): Andy Jones, Dustin Gannon
  • PI(s): Andy Jones
  • Originator(s): Dustin Gannon
  • Other researcher(s): Matthew G Betts
  • Dates of data collection: Jun 21 2019 - Jun 26 2019
  • Data collection status: Study collection is completed and no new collection is planned
  • Data access: Online
  • DOI:
  • Last update: Dec 31 2019 (Version 2)
<Citation>     <Acknowledgement>     <Disclaimer>    
Jones, A.; Gannon, D. 2019. Western columbine genetics across HJ Andrews Experimental Forest meadow communities. Long-Term Ecological Research. Forest Science Data Bank, Corvallis, OR. [Database]. Available: Accessed 2023-12-11.
Data were provided by the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest research program, funded by the National Science Foundation's Long-Term Ecological Research Program (DEB 2025755), US Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, and Oregon State University.
While substantial efforts are made to ensure the accuracy of data and documentation, complete accuracy of data sets cannot be guaranteed. All data are made available "as is". The Andrews LTER shall not be liable for damages resulting from any use or misinterpretation of data sets.

Woody plant encroachment is diminishing meadow and grassland habitat on a global scale. Increased woody cover influences local conditions such as light/shade environments, local soil characteristics, understory plant community structure, and disturbance regimes. Woody encroachment may also affect landscape-scale biological processes, such as herbaceous plant population structure, through reducing the total cover and continuity of open habitat and eroding mutualistic interactions, such as plant-pollinator interaction networks. A major concern is that habitat fragmentation will have a cascading effect if one or more mutualistic partners is adversely affected. For example, if pollinators are sensitive to disturbance, fragmentation may reduce rates of gene flow among sub-populations of plants, which is predicted to decrease effective population sizes and diminish adaptive potential (i.e. the capacity to respond to selective pressures through the evolution of genetically-based and heritable traits).

Alpine meadows of the Cascade Mountains, which support diverse wildflower and pollinator communities, have shrunk dramatically over the last century as a result of forest encroachment. We posited that, as meadows become smaller and less connected, pollinators may abandon the smallest meadows and focus foraging efforts on the largest, most connected meadows with the most resources. This could expedite the decline and ultimate collapse of meadow communities through reducing adaptive potential across sub-populations of plants. We focus on a plant-pollinator interaction between a common, nectar-producing plant, Aquilegia formosa (western columbine), and rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) pollinators in four montane meadow complexes in the H.J. Andrews experimental forest, Oregon, USA (HJA).

Using hummingbird movement data from SA028 (see H.J. Andrews project database), we first ask whether further forest encroachment in the HJA may alter hummingbird movement patterns among meadows. Secondly, using genotyping-by-sequencing to query the genomes of A. formosa individuals from 28 meadows representing a gradient of small and isolated meadows to large, connected meadows, we ask whether contemporary hummingbird movements predict plant population genetic structure and connectivity. A strong hummingbird preference for open habitat and support for a model predicting genetic distances among plants with hummingbird movement over standard geographic distances would support our hypothesis. Alternative results may suggest more robust plant-pollinator interactions in the face of woody encroachment.

Western columbine leaves were collected from 28 meadows within the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Oregon, USA. We sampled six meadows on Lookout Mountain, twelve along Frissell Ridge, six on Carpenter Mountain, and two clearings along forest road 506.

Study Description Study Site Map Taxonomic Hierarchy Download Study Location Information: (CSV)
Ecological Metadata Language: (EML)
1Meadow characteristics (Jun 21 2019 - Jun 26 2019)METADATADATA
Quantification of meadow area, proportion of forest, and stratum on meadow plots
2Individual plant information and cover (Jun 21 2019 - Jun 26 2019)METADATADATA
Species cover, number of conspecifics, flower status, coordinates, and elevation of individual plant

 Hummingbird foraging patterns across alpine meadows with RFID-equipped feeders in the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest, 2014-2017 (SA028)
 Plant Pollinator data at HJ Andrews Experimental Forest, 2011 to 2021 (SA026)

 Highland, Steven A. 2011, The historic and contemporary ecology of western Cascade Meadows: archeology, vegetation, and macromoth ecology (Pub. No: 4704)