Conservation Genetics and Speciation in Asian Forest Trees
Sammanfattning: Tropical forests are important because they are the home of millions of species at the same time as they perform ecosystem services and provide food, cash income and raw materials for the people living there. The present thesis elucidates questions relevant to the conservation of selected forest trees as it adds to the knowledge in the phylogeny, population structure, genetic diversity and adaptation in these species.We investigated the genetic diversity and speciation of four spruce species around the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP), Western China, and one from Taiwan. Nucleotide diversity was low in P. schrenkiana and the Taiwanese P. morrisonicola but higher in P. likiangensis, P. purpurea and P. wilsonii. This can be explained by the population bottlenecks that were detected in the two former species by coalescent-based analysis. The phylogenetic relationships between the five species were difficult to interpret, possibly because other Asian spruce species might have been involved. However, all species are distinct except P. purpurea, which likely has a hybrid origin. The rate of bud set and expression of the FTL2 gene in response to photoperiod in the southernmost growing spruce species, P. morrisonicola, was studied. We found that in this species, although growing near the equator, bud set appears to be induced mainly by a shortening of photoperiod, similarly to its more northerly growing spruce relatives. In addition, seedlings originating from mother trees growing at higher elevations showed a trend towards earlier bud set than seedlings originating from mother trees at lower altitudes.We also studied the population structure and genetic diversity in the endemic white cedar (Dysoxylum malabaricum) in the Western Ghats, India. Overall, no increase in inbreeding that could be related to human activities could be detected. Populations appear to have maintained genetic diversity and gene flow in spite of forest fragmentation over the distribution range. However, there is a severe lack of juveniles and young adults in several populations that needs to be further addressed. Finally, we recommend conservation units based on population structure.
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