New Forests

, Volume 6, Issue 1–4, pp 95–124 | Cite as

Factors influencing levels of genetic diversity in woody plant species

  • J. L. Hamrick
  • Mary Jo W. Godt
  • Susan L. Sherman-Broyles
Review paper Assessment of genetic diversity within and among species


The plant allozyme literature was reviewed to: (1) compare genetic diversity in long-lived woody species with species representing other life forms, and (2) to investigate whether the levels and distribution of genetic diversity in woody species are related to life history and ecological characteristics. Data from 322 woody taxa were used to measure genetic diversity within species, and within and among populations of species. Woody species maintain more variation within species and within populations than species with other life forms but have less variation among populations. Woody species with large geographic ranges, outcrossing breeding systems, and wind or animal-ingested seed dispersal have more genetic diversity within species and populations but less variation among populations than woody species with other combinations of traits. Although life history and ecological traits explain a significant proportion (34%) of the variation among species for the genetic parameters measured, a large proportion of the interspecific variation is unexplained. The specific evolutionary history of each species must play an important role in determining the level and distribution of genetic diversity.

Key words

allozyme electrophoresis life history characteristics polymorphic loci population genetics trees 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. L. Hamrick
    • 1
  • Mary Jo W. Godt
    • 1
  • Susan L. Sherman-Broyles
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Botany and GeneticsUniversity of GeorgiaAthens, GeorgiaUSA

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