Tree Genetics & Genomes

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 503–512 | Cite as

Using simulations to optimize genetic diversity in Prunus avium seed harvests

  • Céline Blanc-Jolivet
  • B. Degen
Original Paper


Conservation of forest genetic resources has drawn much attention in the last decades, as it prevents negative effects of genetic erosion on adaptability potential of material used for afforestation. According to the German Act on Forest Reproductive Material, seed harvesting must occur in certified stands. Seed lots must stem from a minimum number of seed-trees, although the effect of this limit on genetic diversity has not been addressed. In this study, we aimed at understanding the effect of seed harvesting strategies on genetic diversity. We used the simulation model Eco-Gene and real molecular data to disentangle the effects of number of seed-trees and harvesting method in three wild cherry (Prunus avium) stands. Our results outline the importance of harvesting genetically different or distant seed-trees in maintaining genetic diversity. Besides optimal sampling strategy, we also recommend minimum harvesting of 25 seed-trees to reach 90 % of genetic diversity available within the stand. The outcomes of these results for the practice are also discussed.


Genetic diversity Forest reproductive material Simulation Seed stand Prunus avium 



We would like to thank C. Maalaoui, M. Spauszus, D. Boedecker, and M. Wellern for field work, R. Kätzel, F. Becker, M. Konnert, M. Rogge for organising seed harvesting, A. Meier, S. Jelkmann, S. Jencsik and I. Schulze for conducting genetic analysis on field-sampled seeds and adult trees, M. Liesebach and two anonymous reviewers for comments on the manuscript. This study was supported by the German Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV) (grant MuD-Vorhaben (07/B11009) “Etablierung einer Standardmethode zur genetisch nachhaltigen Ernte von forstlichem Vermehrungsgut in zugelassenen Beständen”).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Thünen Institute of Forest GeneticsGrosshansdorfGermany

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