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Keywords:

  • allozyme;
  • coastal plain;
  • Fagus grandifolia;
  • F-statistics;
  • size-class discrimination;
  • spatial substructuring

Abstract

Spatiotemporal genetic substructurings were investigated in the American beech population of the east-central coastal plain in Maryland. All trees including seedlings, various sizes of juveniles, and mature trees within the study site (10 × 100 m) were mapped, diameters measured, and leaves collected for allozyme analyses. Eleven polymorphic loci in eight enzyme systems were examined: 6Pgdh2, 6Pgdh3, Acp2, Adh1, Adh2, Fum, Got1, Got3, Lap, Pgi, and Pgm2. A total of 1945 trees were analyzed and 595 multilocus genotypes were detected. Six size-classes and 10 spatial blocks were discriminated for spatiotemporal analyses. Parameters for genetic variations (heterozygosity, Simpson's index, Shannon-Weaver's index, and inbreeding coefficient) decreased in larger size-classes. These genetic parameters fluctuated in spatial blocks of 10 m intervals, in which certain alleles were characteristic of specific blocks. The spatial autocorrelation by Moran's I and coancestry revealed the ranges of genetic relatedness to be only 20–30 m. Multilocus genotype analyses showed that higher genetic variations occur in larger size-classes and at gap openings where seed shadows for mother trees are overlapped. The relationships among reproductive trees, seedlings and juveniles suggested that the seed dispersal range of the American beech is normally in the range of 30–40 m. The mechanisms of a remarkably high genetic polymorphism maintained in this once artificially disturbed and grazed forest are discussed as related to conservation biology.