Genetic diversity in seeds produced in artificial Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) stands of different size
Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), native to western North America, was introduced to Europe about 150 years ago. Nowadays it represents the most frequent non-native forest tree species in Germany, covering about 2% of the forest area. While seeds were initially imported from its natural distribution range, the German seed market is now mainly supplied with seeds from local stands. In this study we examined four representative, different sized artificial Douglas-fir stands. We used microsatellite markers to characterise adults and offspring by analysing the genetic diversity and mating system. We detected a negative correlation of population size and genetic diversity. The loss of alleles with descending population sizes cannot be compensated by pollen from outside of the stand. The results showed an increased selfing rate (1–13%) correlated with increased inbreeding effects like a high percentage of empty seeds. Diversity parameters calculated as averages across the analysed loci should always be completed with the calculation of effective population sizes considering sibship structures based on multilocus genotypes. The combined approaches are an improved basis for drawing practical conclusions. We recommend that the current regulations for forest reproductive material should be adapted. For wind-pollinated stand-forming tree species a minimum number of 100 adult trees should be required to form approved seed stands in the category “Selected”.
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