Conservation Genetics

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 15–29 | Cite as

Relationships between demography and gene flow and their importance for the conservation of tree populations in tropical forests under selective felling regimes

  • Holger Wernsdörfer
  • Henri Caron
  • Sophie Gerber
  • Guillaume Cornu
  • Vivien Rossi
  • Frédéric Mortier
  • Sylvie Gourlet-Fleury
Research Article


Determining how tropical tree populations subject to selective felling (logging) pressure may be conserved is a crucial issue for forest management and studying this issue requires a comprehensive understanding of the relationships between population demography and gene flow. We used a simulation model, SELVA, to study (1) the relative impact of demographic factors (juvenile mortality, felling regime) and genetic factors (selfing, number and location of fathers, mating success) on long-term genetic diversity; and (2) the impact of different felling regimes on population size versus genetic diversity. Impact was measured by means of model sensitivity analyses. Juvenile mortality had the highest impact on the number of alleles and genotypes, and on the genetic distance between the original and final populations. Selfing had the greatest impact on observed heterozygote frequency and fixation index. Other factors and interactions had only minor effects. Overall, felling had a greater impact on population size than on genetic diversity. Interestingly, populations under relatively low felling pressure even had a somewhat lower fixation index than undisturbed populations (no felling). We conclude that demographic processes such as juvenile mortality should be modelled thoroughly to obtain reliable long-term predictions of genetic diversity. Mortality in selfed and outcrossed progenies should be modelled explicitly by taking inbreeding depression into account. The modelling of selfing based on population rate appeared to be oversimplifying and should account for inter-tree variation. Forest management should pay particular attention to the regeneration capacities of felled species.


Genetic diversity Gene flow Population dynamics Simulation model Conservation Forest management 



We are grateful to Sylvie Oddou-Muratorio of INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) Avignon and to Ivan Scotti of INRA Kourou (French Guiana) for valuable discussions on the demography and gene flow of forest tree species. Moreover, we thank two anonymous reviewers for constructive and helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. The work was funded by a joint post-doctoral fellowship from CIRAD (French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development) and INRA.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Holger Wernsdörfer
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Henri Caron
    • 4
    • 5
  • Sophie Gerber
    • 4
    • 5
  • Guillaume Cornu
    • 1
  • Vivien Rossi
    • 1
  • Frédéric Mortier
    • 6
  • Sylvie Gourlet-Fleury
    • 1
  1. 1.CIRAD, UR Dynamique des Forets NaturellesMontpellier Cedex 5France
  2. 2.INRA, UMR1092, Laboratoire d Etude des Ressources Foret Bois (LERFoB)ChampenouxFrance
  3. 3.AgroParisTech, UMR1092, Laboratoire d Etude des Ressources Foret Bois (LERFoB)NancyFrance
  4. 4.INRA, UMR 1202 BIOGECOCestasFrance
  5. 5.Université de Bordeaux, UMR 1202 BIOGECOCestasFrance
  6. 6.CIRAD, UR Diversité Génétique et Amélioration des Espèces ForestièresMontpellier Cedex 5France

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