, Volume 6, Issue 1-4, pp 257-278

Spatial structure of genetic variation within populations of forest trees

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The spatial pattern and structure of genetic variation are important aspects of the population genetics of forest stands. Combined with limits to seed and pollen dispersal, spatial structure affects the level of inbreeding and the action of natural selection. The genetic constitution of stand regeneration, following different forestry practices, is also influenced by spatial structure. For example, natural regeneration with seed trees involves sampling seed trees from a stand that may be genetically nonhomogeneous. This paper reviews theoretical and empirical results on spatial patterns of genetic variation, produced under limited gene flow and selection, in terms of recently developed spatial statistics (e.g., spatial autocorrelation). Genetic correlations in samples from spatially structured populations are also described, as well as how spatial samples can be used to characterize the structure of genetic variation, and how inferences can be made about (spatially distributed) components of fitness and yield.