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Heterogeneous genetic structure in a Fagus crenata population in an old-growth beech forest revealed by microsatellite markers


Asuka Yamashita. E-mail:


The within-population genetic structure of Fagus crenata in a 4-ha plot (200 × 200 m) of an old-growth beech forest was analysed using microsatellite markers. To assess the genetic structure, Moran's I spatial autocorrelation coefficient was calculated. Correlograms of Moran's I showed significant positive values less than 0.100 for short-distance classes, indicating weak genetic structure. The genetic structure within the population is created by limited seed dispersal, and is probably weakened by overlapping seed shadow, secondary seed dispersal, extensive pollen flow and the thinning process. Genetic structure was detected in a western subplot of 50 × 200 m with immature soils and almost no dwarf bamboos (Sasa spp.), where small and intermediate-sized individuals were distributed in aggregations with high density because of successful regeneration. By contrast, genetic structure was not found in an eastern subplot of the same size with mature soils and Sasa cover, where successful regeneration was prevented, and the density of the small and intermediate-sized individuals was low. Moreover, genetic structure of individuals in a small-size class (diameter at breast height < 12 cm) was more obvious than in a large-size class (diameter at breast height ≥ 12 cm). The apparent genetic structure detected in the 4-ha plot was therefore probably the result of the structure in the western portion of the plot and in small and intermediate-sized individuals that successfully regenerated under the favourable environment. The heterogeneity in genetic structure presumably reflects variation in the density that should be affected by differences in regeneration dynamics associated with heterogeneity in environmental conditions.