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Keywords:

  • differentiation;
  • dispersion;
  • gene flow;
  • microsatellite;
  • pollen;
  • Quercus

Paternity analysis was used to determine the spatial distribution of male parents of 984 offspring collected from 13 identified mother trees in a natural stand of 5.76 ha and comprising 296 adult trees of Quercus petraea and Q. robur. For seven of the 13 maternal progeny arrays sampled, we found an excess of nearby matings and a preferential direction of pollination. For the remaining progeny arrays, no departure from random distribution of male parents was detected. A common trend among all families was a high percentage (averaging 65% for Q. robur and 69% for Q. petraea) of offspring that were pollinated by male parents from outside the study site. By pooling the data over all families, the average pollen dispersal curve within the stand was inferred and fitted to a negative exponential distribution. This model extrapolated for distances over the spatial scale of the study stand was insufficient to explain the high level of gene flow detected by the paternity analysis, suggesting a substantial level of long-distance pollination events. The genetic composition of the pollen pools received by each maternal tree was compared and showed significant differentiation that could be attributed to differences in male reproductive success. By contrast, no significant differentiation between the pollen clouds from outside and inside the study stand was detected, suggesting genetic homogeneity between the surrounding forest and the study stand.