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Conservation Genetics

, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp 571–583 | Cite as

Reproductive and genetic characteristics of rare, disjunct pitch pine populations at the northern limits of its range in Canada

  • A. Mosseler
  • O.P. Rajora
  • J.E. Major
  • K.H. kim
Article

Abstract

Pitch pine, Pinus rigida Mill., is a rare species in Canada, existing as a disjunct population in the St. Lawrence River Valley in eastern Ontario and two northern outlier stands in southern Quebec along Canada's southern border with the United States. Reproductive and genetic characteristics of these small, scattered stands were investigated to develop a foundation for management and restoration in the event of range expansion northwards under anticipated climate warming. Seed yields and seed quality appear to be comparable to other eastern conifers, and to pitch pine at the center of its geographic range. For seed and seedling growth traits, most of the variation was attributable to differences among trees within stands and, to a lesser extent, among stands within a population; whereas the population effect was non-significant. For reproductive traits, such as numbers of filled and empty seeds per cone, reproductive efficiency, and inbreeding estimates, high levels of variation (ranging from 26% to 33%) were found among stands, suggesting that stand structural features, such as stand size and tree density within stands, play an important role in pollination environment and overall reproductive success. Estimates of genetic diversity at 32 allozyme gene loci indicate that these small, isolated stands have maintained relatively high levels of genetic diversity compared with populations at the center of its geographic range, and also relative to other widely dispersed eastern conifers. The relatively high levels of viable seed production and genetic diversity in native pitch pine populations indicate that native Canadian populations may be suitable seed sources for species restoration and range expansion in Canada.

allozymes genetic diversity inbreeding Pinus rigida reproductive fitness 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Mosseler
    • 1
  • O.P. Rajora
    • 1
  • J.E. Major
    • 1
  • K.H. kim
    • 1
  1. 1.Natural Resources CanadaCanadian Forest Service–Atlantic Forestry CentreFrederictonCanada

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