Conservation Genetics

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 1327–1338 | Cite as

Short-distance gene flow in Populus nigra L. accounts for small-scale spatial genetic structures: implications for in situ conservation measures

  • Georg RathmacherEmail author
  • Marc Niggemann
  • Melanie Köhnen
  • Birgit Ziegenhagen
  • Ronald Bialozyt
Research Article


The European black poplar (Populus nigra L.) is a major species of riparian softwood forests. Due to human influences, it is one of the most threatened tree species in Europe. For restoration purposes, remaining stands may act as source populations. We analysed a natural population of P. nigra for genetic diversity and spatial genetic structure using seven microsatellite markers. For the first time, paternity analysis of seedlings as well as juveniles from a restricted area of natural regeneration was used to quantify pollen- and seed-mediated gene flow, respectively. In both cases, cultivated P. x canadensis trees in vicinity could act as potential parents. Spatial genetic patterns of the adult tree population suggest small-scale isolation by distance due to short-distance gene flow, the major part of which (i.e. 70%) takes place within distances of less than 1 km. This helps to explain the reduced diversity in the juveniles. It has implications for the spatial management of natural regeneration areas within in situ conservation measures.


Parentage analysis SSR Microsatellite Natural regeneration Pollen dispersal Seed dispersal 



This research was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of the Federal Republic of Germany (BMBF). We wish to thank Stefan Lawatsch, Dagmar Kudernatsch, Katharina Budde, Eike Mayland-Quellhorst and Inga Michalczyk for their valuable help in taking samples and collecting data. For their helpful advice in the lab, we would like to thank Christina Mengel and Sascha Liepelt. We also thank Ilona Leyer for her statistical skills.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Georg Rathmacher
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marc Niggemann
    • 1
  • Melanie Köhnen
    • 1
  • Birgit Ziegenhagen
    • 1
  • Ronald Bialozyt
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Biology, Conservation BiologyPhilipps-University of MarburgMarburgGermany

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