Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 29, Issue 6, pp 927–945 | Cite as

Impact of asymmetric male and female gamete dispersal on allelic diversity and spatial genetic structure in valley oak (Quercus lobata Née)

  • Victoria L. SorkEmail author
  • Peter E. Smouse
  • Delphine Grivet
  • Douglas G. Scofield
Original Paper


The distribution and abundance of genetic diversity in plant populations is initiated by sexually asymmetric propagule dispersal through pollen and seeds. Because these processes occur serially, it is not transparent how each contributes to subsequent patterns of genetic diversity. Using combined seedling/seed coat assay for naturally distributed seedlings of Quercus lobata Née, we extracted male and female gametic genotypes, and then assessed (wind-vectored) paternal and (gravity- and animal-vectored) maternal contributions to spatially distributed allelic diversity. We evaluated 200 naturally recruited seedlings from 4 open patches away from any adult canopies (denoted ‘open’), and 174 seedlings from 14 patches immediately beneath adult canopies (denoted ‘canopy’). The open patches included 19 % long distant dispersal events of >1 km while the canopy patches contained seedlings from one tree overhead. For each patch type, we partitioned average allelic diversity for six microsatellite loci for the whole study site (γ) into separate within-patch (α) and among-patch (β) components, translated into among-patch divergence (δ). We found that α-diversity resulting from seed dispersal was much less than that from pollen dispersal in both patch types, while total γ-diversity across the site was similar. Divergence (δ) among canopy patches was significantly greater than δ among open patches. We then evaluated spatial genetic autocorrelation (kinship) patterns for both open and canopy strata, separately for male and female gametes. Female gametes showed sharply declining kinship with increasing distance for canopy patches and modestly for open patches. In sharp contrast, male gametes from both patches showed only subtle decline of kinship, but seedlings still showed significant structure across patch types. On balance, sexual asymmetry in propagule dispersal shapes both the abundance and distribution of allelic diversity, with pollen dispersal promoting overall diversity but reducing spatial structure, but seed-dispersal reduces overall diversity and markedly increases spatial genetic structure.


Alpha and gamma diversity Genetic diversity Isolation by distance Pollen dispersal Seed dispersal Spatial genetic structure 



The authors thank F. Davis (UCSB) for our early collaboration. The fieldwork was performed at the University of California Natural Reserve System Sedgwick Reserve administered by the UC Santa Barbara. We thank M. Williams, K. McCurdy, A. Lentz, and the staff at the Sedgwick Reserve for logistical support over the years. We thank F. Austerlitz and J. J. Arnuncio for intellectual stimulation. For technical assistance in genotyping and scoring genotypes of difficult tissue, we are grateful to C. Winder of the Sork lab and J. Papp and U. Dandekar of the UCLA Genotyping Core facility. We thank members of the Sork lab for comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. The research and V.L.S, D.G., D.G.S. were supported by NSF-DEB-0514956 and NSF-DEB-0089445; P.E.S. was supported by NSF-DEB-0514956 and USDA/NJAES-17111 and -17160.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victoria L. Sork
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Peter E. Smouse
    • 3
  • Delphine Grivet
    • 4
  • Douglas G. Scofield
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Institute of the Environment and SustainabilityUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural ResourcesRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  4. 4.Department of Forest Ecology and Genetics, Center of Forest ResearchCIFOR-National Institute for Agriculture and Food Research and TechnologyMadridSpain
  5. 5.Department of Ecology and Genetics, Evolutionary Biology CentreUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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