Gene flow and fine-scale genetic structure in a wind-pollinated tree species, Quercus lobata (Fagaceaee)

TitleGene flow and fine-scale genetic structure in a wind-pollinated tree species, Quercus lobata (Fagaceaee)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsDutech, C, Sork, VL, Irwin, AJ, Smouse, PE, Davis, FW
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Keywordsbearing correlogram California oak genetic autocorrelation analysis microsatellite pollen and seed dispersal tree species wind direction valley oak Quercus lobata

California Valley oak (Quercus lobata), one of the state's most distinctive oak species, has experienced serious demographic attrition since the 19th century, due to human activities. Recent estimates of pollen dispersal suggest a small reproductive neighborhood. Whether small neighborhood size is a recent phenomenon, a consequence of reduced gene flow caused by demographic changes, or whether it has been historically restricted, remains unclear. To examine this question, we have characterized the spatial genetic structure of N = 191 Q. lobata individuals, spread over an area of 230 ha, using eight microsatellite loci. The observed autocorrelogram suggests an historical standard deviation of gene flow distance of about 350 m per generation, higher than contemporary pollen dispersal estimates. To determine whether our estimates were affected by strong prevailing winds from the west–northwest, we developed and utilized a novel anisotropic autocorrelation analysis. We detected no more than a hint of anisotropy, and we concluded that adult spatial structure is indicative of strong historical signature of "isolation by distance." This historical estimate provides a useful reference value against which to gauge the future gene flow consequences of ongoing anthropogenic disturbance.