Is there a positive relationship between naturalness and genetic diversity in forest tree communities?

C. Wehenkel, J. J. Corral-Rivas, H. A. Castellanos-Bocaz, A. Pinedo-Alvarez
2009 Forest Systems  
The concepts of genetic diversity and naturalness are well known as measures of conservation values and as descriptors of state or condition. A lack of research evaluating the relationship between genetic diversity and naturalness in biological communities, along with the possible implications in terms of evolutionary aspects and conservation management, make this subject particularly important as regards forest tree communities. We therefore examined the following hypothesis: the genetic
more » ... : the genetic diversity of a central-European tree stand averaged over species increases with the naturalness of the stand, as defined by the Potential Natural Vegetation (PNV). The results obtained show that the hypothesis is unsustainable because differences between the averaged genetic diversities of the unnatural and semi-natural stand classes (69 cases) were mostly non-significant. Moreover in three cases, the average genetic diversity of unnatural stand classes was significantly higher than the average genetic diversity of the semi-natural stand classes. A significantly lower average genetic diversity of unnatural stand class was not detected in the statistical analysis. Thus, the naturalness of a tree species community, as inferred from PNV, does not serve as a straightforward indicator of ecological stability when the genetic diversity and the adaptability of tree species are unknown.
doi:10.5424/fs/2009181-01047 fatcat:ok5fe4gsqbec7ebywh4gzlwhey