Adaptive consequences of human-mediated introgression for indigenous tree species: The case of a relict Pinus pinaster population

José Alberto Ramírez-Valiente, Juan José Robledo-Arnuncio

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7 Scopus citations


Human-induced gene movement via afforestation and restoration programs is a widespread phenomenon throughout the world. However, its effects on the genetic composition of native populations have received relatively little attention, particularly in forest trees. Here, we examine to what extent gene flow from allochthonous plantations of Pinus pinaster Aiton impacts offspring performance in a neighboring relict natural population and discuss the potential consequences for the long-term genetic composition of the latter. Specifically, we conducted a greenhouse experiment involving two contrasting watering treatments to test for differences in a set of functional traits and mortality rates between P. pinaster progenies from three different parental origins: (i) local native parents, (ii) exotic parents and (iii) intercrosses between local mothers and exotic fathers (intraspecific hybrids). Our results showed differences among crosses in cumulative mortality over time: seedlings of exotic parents exhibited the lowest mortality rates and seedlings of local origin the highest, while intraspecific hybrids exhibited an intermediate response. Linear regressions showed that seedlings with higher water-use efficiency (WUE, δ13C) were more likely to survive under drought stress, consistent with previous findings suggesting that WUE has an important role under dry conditions in this species. However, differences in mortality among crosses were only partially explained by WUE. Other non-measured traits and factors such as inbreeding depression in the relict population are more likely to explain the lower performance of native progenies. Overall, our results indicated that intraspecific hybrids and exotic individuals are more likely to survive under stressful conditions than local native individuals, at least during the first year of development. Since summer drought is the most important demographic and selective filter affecting tree establishment in Mediterranean ecosystems, a potential early selective advantage of exotic and hybrid genotypes would enhance initial steps of introgression of non-native genes into the study relict population of P. pinaster.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1376-1387
Number of pages12
JournalTree physiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.


  • Conservation genetics
  • Drought avoidance
  • Drought tolerance
  • Gene flow
  • Natural selection
  • Plantations
  • Translocations
  • Water-use efficiency


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