Fine-scale spatial genetic structure in a multi-oak-species (Quercus spp.) forest
Curtu AL, Craciunesc I, Enescu CM, Vidalis A, Sofletea N

atterns of fine-scale spatial distribution of multilocus genotypes can provide valuable insights into the biology of forest tree species. Here we tested for the existence of spatial genetic structure (SGS) in a four-oak-species forest with contrasting species abundances and hybridization rates. A total of 483 adult trees were mapped over 8.6 ha and genotyped using 10 highly polymorphic genomic regions. A weak but significant SGS was observed in each of the four oak species, with Quercus frainetto, the species with the lowest density in the sampling plot, exhibiting the strongest SGS. The values of the Sp statistic were 0.0033, 0.0035, 0.0042, and 0.0098 for Q. petraea, Q. robur, Q. pubescens, and Q. frainetto, respectively. The spatial correlogram of the total population was significantly different when hybrids were removed from the analysis, which suggests that hybridization influenced the SGS. Interspecific SGSs were significantly correlated with the rates of hybridization. Implications of the obtained results for the conservation and management of forest genetic resources are discussed.

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