Canadian Forest Service Publications

Impacts of forest fragmentation on the mating system and genetic diversity of white spruce (Picea glauca) at the landscape level. 2006. O’Connell, L.M.; Mosseler, A.; Rajora, O.P. Heredity 97: 418-426.

Year: 2006

Available from: Atlantic Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 26607

Language: English

CFS Availability: Order paper copy (free)


We studied the mating system of white spruce (Picea glauca) in a landscape fragmented by agriculture in northern Ontario, Canada. We sampled 23 stands that ranged in size from 1 to >500 trees isolated by 250-3000 m from the nearest other stand. Six polymorphic allozyme loci from four enzyme systems were used to genotype approximately 10000 embryos from 104 families. We detected no allele frequency heterogeneity in the pollen pool among stands or families (FT= -.025). Overall, estimates of outcrossing were high (tm = 94% and mean te = 91%) but significantly different from unity. Bi-parental inbreeding (tm-ts = 3.2%) was low but significantly different from zero. Allozyme-based outcrossing estimates did not differ significantly among three stand-size classes (SSCs): small (<10 trees), medium (10-100 trees) and large (>100 trees). The number of effective pollen donors was high in all SSCs, but was significantly lower in small stands (Nep = 62.5) than in medium-sized and large stands (both Nep= 143). The primary selfing rate was significantly higher in medium stands than in large stands. We found no significant difference in genetic diversity measures in the filial (seed) population among SSCs. Overall, these results indicate that white spruce stands in this fragmented landscape are resistant to genetic diversity losses, primarily through high pollen-mediated gene-flow and early selection against inbred embryos. We discuss the importance of using seed data, in conjunction with genetic data, to evaluate the impacts of fragmentation on natural populations.