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Keywords:

  • genetic diversity;
  • hybridization;
  • invasive species;
  • Siberian elm;
  • Ulmus pumila;
  • Ulmus rubra

Abstract

Ulmus pumila is considered an invasive tree in 41 of the United States. In this study, we examined the extent of hybridization in naturalized populations of U. pumila, its impact on genetic diversity and genetic structure and its potential role in explaining the invasion process of U. pumila. Genetic analyses indicated widespread hybridization with native Ulmus rubra in naturalized U. pumila populations. Hybridization increased the genetic diversity of U. pumila populations and affected their genetic structure. The level of genetic diversity in ‘mature’ accessions, many of which may represent original plantings throughout the USA, was high and similar to the diversity of East Asian accessions. Hybridization with the native red elm may play an important role in the success of Siberian elm as an invader in temperate regions of the USA.