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Keywords:

  • gene flow;
  • mating system;
  • parentage analysis;
  • pollen dispersal

Abstract

The neighbourhood model apportions offspring of individual mother plants to self-fertilization, outcrossing to males within a circumscribed area around the mother plant (the neighbourhood), and outcrossing to males outside the neighbourhood. Formerly the model was applied only to haploid pollen gametes in the offspring of conifers, but is extended so that it can be used with genotypic data from diploid offspring of both angiosperms and gymnosperms. In addition, it is shown that the mating parameters can be estimated without independent estimates of allele frequencies in the pollen pools outside the neighbourhood; thus the model might be applied effectively to natural populations exposed to unknown external pollen sources. Parameters of the neighbourhood mating model were estimated for a 10-year-old seed orchard population of the insect-pollinated tree, Eucalyptus regnans, in southeast Australia, which contained a mixture of two geographical provenances (Victoria and Tasmania). The mating patterns revealed were complex. Crosses between trees of the same provenance occurred three times more often than crosses between trees of different provenances. Levels of self-fertilization and patterns of mating within neighbourhoods were influenced by provenance origin, crop fecundity and orchard position (central vs. edge) of mother trees. Gene dispersal, however, was extensive, with approximately 50% of effective pollen gametes coming from males more than 40 m away from mother trees (average distance between neighbouring trees was 7.4 m). Thus, insect pollinators are efficient promoters of cross-fertilization in this orchard, with the result that the effective number of males mating with each female is large.