, Volume 6, Issue 1-4, pp 217-240

Gene dispersal within forest tree populations

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Patterns of gene dispersal by seeds and pollen greatly influence the genetic structure of plant populations and their effective size. This paper reviews methods of measuring gene dispersal and current information on patterns of dispersal within local populations of forest trees. Recently, a number of statistical procedures for investigating gene movement based on the use of large numbers of isozyme loci have been described. These procedures include various forms of parentage analysis and the fitting of mating models to genotypic arrays of offspring from individual maternal plants. With the levels of genetic discrimination currently possible in forest trees, the model approach appears to be the most reliable means of estimating gene dispersal parameters. Too little data are available to draw general conclusions about patterns of gene movement within natural populations. Nevertheless, reports to date indicate that dispersal by both pollen and seed can be considerable. For any one mother tree, the bulk of effective pollen in conifers may come from distant males in the same stand or from surrounding stands (gene flow). In insect-pollinated angiosperms, gene flow may also be substantial, but cross-fertilization within stands may primarily be between nearest flowering trees.