Habitat differences influence genetic impacts of human land use on the American Beech (Fagus grandifolia)

Candice Y. Lumibao, Jason S. McLachlan

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4 Scopus citations


Natural reforestation after regional forest clearance is a globally common land-use sequence. The genetic recovery of tree populations in these recolonized forests may depend on the biogeographic setting of the landscape, for instance whether they are in the core or in the marginal part of the species' range. Using data from 501 individuals genotyped across 7 microsatellites, we investigated whether regional differences in habitat quality affected the recovery of genetic variation in a wind-pollinated tree species, American beech (Fagus grandifolia) in Massachusetts. We compared populations in forests that were recolonized following agricultural abandonment to those in remnant forests that have only been logged in both central inland and marginal coastal regions. Across all populations in our entire study region, recolonized forests showed limited reduction of genetic diversity as only observed heterozygosity was significantly reduced in these forests (H O = 0.520 and 0.590, respectively). Within inland region, this pattern was observed, whereas in the coast, recolonized populations exhibited no reduction in all genetic diversity estimates. However, genetic differentiation among recolonized populations in marginal coastal habitat increased (F st logged = 0.072; F st secondary = 0.249), with populations showing strong genetic structure, in contrast to inland region. These results indicate that the magnitude of recovery of genetic variation in recolonized populations can vary at different habitats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)793-805
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Heredity
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

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© 2014 The American Genetic Association. All rights reserved.


  • Fagus grandifolia
  • New England
  • forest fragmentation
  • genetic diversity
  • genetic structure
  • land use


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