Get access

Realized gene flow within mixed stands of Quercus robur L. and Q. petraea (Matt.) L. revealed at the stage of naturally established seedling


I. J. Chybicki, Fax: +48523419184; E-mail:


The estimates of contemporary gene flow assessed based on naturally established seedlings provide information much needed for understanding the abilities of forest tree populations to persist under global changes through migration and/or adaptation facilitated by gene exchange among populations. Here, we investigated pollen- and seed-mediated gene flow in two mixed-oak forest stands (consisting of Quercus robur L. and Q. petraea [Matt.] Liebl.). The gene flow parameters were estimated based on microsatellite multilocus genotypes of seedlings and adults and their spatial locations within the sample plots using models that attempt to reconstruct the genealogy of the seedling cohorts. Pollen and seed dispersal were modelled using the standard seedling neighbourhood model and a modification—the 2-component seedling neighbourhood model, with the later allowing separation of the dispersal process into local and long-distance components. The 2-component model fitted the data substantially better than the standard model and provided estimates of mean seed and pollen dispersal distances accounting for long-distance propagule dispersal. The mean distance of effective pollen dispersal was found to be 298 and 463 m, depending on the stand, while the mean distance of effective seed dispersal was only 8.8 and 15.6 m, which is consistent with wind pollination and primarily seed dispersal by gravity in Quercus. Some differences observed between the two stands could be attributed to the differences in the stand structure of the adult populations and the existing understory vegetation. Such a mixture of relatively limited seed dispersal with occasional long distance gene flow seems to be an efficient strategy for colonizing new habitats with subsequent local adaptation, while maintaining genetic diversity within populations.

Get access to the full text of this article