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Relationships between demography and gene flow and their importance for the conservation of tree populations in tropical forests under selective felling regimes

Wernsdörfer H., Caron H., Gerber S., Cornu G., Rossi V., Mortier F., Gourlet-Fleury S.. 2011. Conservation Genetics, 12 (1) : p. 15-29.

DOI: 10.1007/s10592-009-9983-0

Determining how tropical tree populations subject to selective felling (logging) pressure may be conserved is a crucial issue for forest management and studying this issue requires a comprehensive understanding of the relationships between population demography and gene flow. We used a simulation model, SELVA, to study (1) the relative impact of demographic factors (juvenile mortality, felling regime) and genetic factors (selfing, number and location of fathers, mating success) on long-term genetic diversity; and (2) the impact of different felling regimes on population size versus genetic diversity. Impact was measured by means of model sensitivity analyses. Juvenile mortality had the highest impact on the number of alleles and genotypes, and on the genetic distance between the original and final populations. Selfing had the greatest impact on observed heterozygote frequency and fixation index. Other factors and interactions had only minor effects. Overall, felling had a greater impact on population size than on genetic diversity. Interestingly, populations under relatively low felling pressure even had a somewhat lower fixation index than undisturbed populations (no felling).We conclude that demographic processes such as juvenile mortality should be modelled thoroughly to obtain reliable long-term predictions of genetic diversity. Mortality in selfed and outcrossed progenies should be modelled explicitly by taking inbreeding depression into account. The modelling of selfing based on population rate appeared to be oversimplifying and should account for inter-tree variation. Forest management should pay particular attention to the regeneration capacities of felled species.

Mots-clés : forêt tropicale; guyane française; france

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