Genetic diversity impacts of forest fires, forest harvesting, and alternative reforestation practices in black spruce (Picea mariana)

Rajora, O. P.; Pluhar, S. A.
May 2003
Theoretical & Applied Genetics;May2003, Vol. 106 Issue 7, p1203
Academic Journal
Benchmarks were established for genetic diversity inherent in natural mature populations, and genetic diversity impacts of forest fires, clearcut harvesting and alternative natural and artificial silvicultural regeneration practices were determined in black spruce (Picea mariana). Allozymes of 32 loci were used to determine and compare genetic diversity and genetic relationships of adjacent or nearby four stand types: post-fire natural mature (FNM), post-fire natural young (FNR), post-harvest natural young (HNR) and post-harvest plantation (PLT), of black spruce at each of the four study sites located in two ecoregions in Manitoba: Ecoregion 90-Lac Seul Upland (Eastern) and Ecoregion 158 - Mid-Boreal Lowland (Northern). Both allelic- and genotypic-based genetic diversity parameters, as well as latent genetic potential, were determined. Black spruce populations showed typical moderate to high levels of allozyme genetic diversity. The mean genetic diversity parameters over the 16 black spruce populations sampled were as follows: percent loci polymorphic – 67%, mean number of alleles per locus – 2.52, effective number of alleles per locus – 1.70, observed heterozygosity – 0.222, expected heterozygosity – 0.308, mean number of observed genotypes per locus – 3.65, mean number of expected genotypes per locus – 5.03, genotype additivity (observed) – 116.8, genotype additivity (expected) – 161, genotype multiplicity (observed) – 6.16 × 1015, genotype multiplicity (expected) – 2.06 × 1019 and latent genetic potential – 26.12. The four stand types (FNM, FNR, HNR and PLT) had comparable and statistically similar genetic diversity levels at each of the four study sites as well as overall. No significant differences in black spruce genetic diversity levels were observed between the two ecoregions in Manitoba, as well as between the post-fire and post-harvest regenerated stands. No particular order of genetic relatedness among the four stand types was observed. Black spruce populations showed some sort of site-related differentiation in their genetic constitution. Allelic heterogeneity and genetic distances among populations within stand types and among four stand types suggest that the genetic diversity was maintained at the landscape level in black spruce. The results of our study demonstrate that forest fires and currently used clearcut harvesting, and alternative natural and artificial silvicultural regeneration practices, do not adversely affect genetic diversity in black spruce, and that the genetic diversity effects of clearcut harvesting are not significantly different from those due to forest fires in black spruce.


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