The Effect of Deforestation on the Genetic Diversity and Structure in Acer Saccharum (marsh): Evidence for the Loss and Restructuring of Genetic Variation in a Natural System

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Conservation Genetics

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The level and distribution of genetic diversity can be influenced by species life history traits and demographic factors, including perturbations that might produce population bottlenecks. Deforestation and forest fragmentation are common sources of population disturbance in contemporary populations of forest ecosystems. Although the genetic effects of forest fragmentation and deforestation have been examined by assessing levels of genetic variation in forest fragments that remain after logging, few considerations have been made of the populations that re-colonize once-cleared areas. Here we examine the effects of human-mediated population bottlenecks on the level and distribution of genetic diversity in natural populations of the long-lived forest tree species, Acer saccharum (sugar maple). We compared genetic variation and structure for populations of sugar maple found within old-growth forested area and in area that has re-colonized since logging. In this study the percent polymorphic loci and allelic richness estimates were reduced in the logged populations compared to old-growth populations. Jackknifed estimates of population genetic differentiation showed significantly higher differentiation among logged populations, with this result being consistently seen when individuals within populations were grouped according to diameter at breast height. The result of decreased genetic variation and higher levels of genetic structure among logged populations suggests that even one extensive bout of logging can alter the level and distribution of genetic variation in this forest tree species.


Copyright © 2005, Springer



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