Documenting the scale and intensity of fine-scale spatial genetic structure (FSGS), and the processes that shape it, is relevant to the sustainable management of genetic resources in timber tree species, particularly where logging or fragmentation might disrupt gene flow. In this study we assessed patterns of FSGS in three species of Dipterocarpaceae (Parashorea tomentella, Shorea leprosula and Shorea parvifolia) across four different tropical rain forests in Malaysia using nuclear microsatellite markers. Topographic heterogeneity varied across the sites. We hypothesised that forests with high topographic heterogeneity would display increased FSGS among the adult populations driven by habitat associations. This hypothesis was not supported for S. leprosula and S. parvifolia which displayed little variation in the intensity and scale of FSGS between sites despite substantial variation in topographic heterogeneity. Conversely, the intensity of FSGS for P. tomentella was greater at a more topographically heterogeneous than a homogeneous site, and a significant difference in the overall pattern of FSGS was detected between sites for this species. These results suggest that local patterns of FSGS may in some species be shaped by habitat heterogeneity in addition to limited gene flow by pollen and seed dispersal. Site factors can therefore contribute to the development of FSGS. Confirming consistency in species’ FSGS amongst sites is an important step in managing timber tree genetic diversity as it provides confidence that species specific management recommendations based on species reproductive traits can be applied across a species’ range. Forest managers should take into account the interaction between reproductive traits and site characteristics, its consequences for maintaining forest genetic resources and how this might influence natural regeneration across species if management is to be sustainable.
Smith, J. R., Ghazoul, J., Burslem, D. F. R. P., Itoh, A., Khoo, E., Lee, S. L., ... Kettle, C. J. (2018). Are patterns of fine-scale spatial genetic structure consistent between sites within tropical tree species? PloS ONE, 13(3), [e0193501]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0193501