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Using simulations to optimize genetic diversity in Prunus aviumseed harvests

Conservation of forest genetic resources has drawn much attention in the last decades, as it prevents negative effects of genetic erosion on adaptability potential of material used for afforestation. According to the German Act on Forest Reproductive Material, seed harvestingmust occur in certified stands. Seed lots must stem from a minimum number of seedtrees, although the effect of this limit on genetic diversity has not been addressed. In this study, we aimed at understanding the effect of seed harvesting strategies on genetic diversity. We used the simulation model Eco-Gene and real molecular data to disentangle the effects of number of seed-trees and harvesting method in three wild cherry (Prunus avium) stands. Our results outline the importance of harvesting genetically different or distant seed-trees in maintaining genetic diversity. Besides optimal sampling strategy, we also recommend minimum harvesting of 25 seed-trees to reach 90 % of genetic diversity available within the stand. The outcomes of these results for the practice are also discussed.

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