iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Weak isolation by distance and geographic diversity gradients persist in Scottish relict pine forest

Patricia González-Díaz (1-2)   , Stephen Cavers (2), Glenn R Iason (3), Allan Booth (3), Joanne Russell (3), Alistair S Jump (1-4)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 11, Issue 4, Pages 449-458 (2018)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor2454-011
Published: Jul 02, 2018 - Copyright © 2018 SISEF

Research Articles

Collection/Special Issue: COST Action FP1202
Strengthening conservation: a key issue for adaptation of marginal/peripheral populations of forest trees to climate change in Europe (MaP-FGR)
Guest Editors: Fulvio Ducci, Kevin Donnelly

Gene flow is one of the main factors shaping genetic diversity within and among tree populations, and occurs through pollen and seed dispersal. Recent findings of pollen-release asynchronies in distant populations of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) within Scotland suggest that gene dispersal among more distant populations might be less effective than previously thought. Limited gene dispersal is one of the major factors causing genetic structure for neutral markers, and pollen-release asynchrony could have driven isolation by distance (IBD) among Scottish populations. Previous studies of neutral markers found little differentiation among Scottish populations of Scots pine, however they did not consider IBD over the full Scottish range. We analysed data from 6 nuclear simple sequence repeats (SSR) and 5 chloroplast SSR loci in a total of 540 individuals of Scots pine from 18 populations across Scotland. Our aim was to assess contemporary levels and distribution of genetic variation and to test if the distribution of genetic diversity was consistent with IBD. We also analysed patterns of gene flow that could have contributed to the observed patterns of variation. Levels of genetic diversity were high, for both nuclear and chloroplast markers within populations, and there was no significant differentiation among populations. A weak signal of IBD was present. We found an increase in nuclear diversity towards the East along with greater gene flow in a West-East direction commensurate with the prevailing winds. Our findings suggest that this wind-driven gene flow is dominant over genetic drift and prevents differentiation among the Scottish populations. It may also counteract any pollen-release asynchronies among populations.


Pinus sylvestris, Genetic Diversity, Gene Flow, Isolation by Distance, Prevailing Winds

Authors’ address

Patricia González-Díaz
Alistair S Jump
Biological and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA (UK)
Patricia González-Díaz
Stephen Cavers
NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology Edinburgh, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0QB (UK)
Glenn R Iason
Allan Booth
Joanne Russell
The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen AB15 8QH (UK)
Alistair S Jump
CREAF (Centre de Recerca Ecológica i Aplicacions Forestals), Campus UAB, Edifici C, E-08193, Belaterra, Barcelona (Spain)

Corresponding author

Patricia González-Díaz


González-Díaz P, Cavers S, Iason GR, Booth A, Russell J, Jump AS (2018). Weak isolation by distance and geographic diversity gradients persist in Scottish relict pine forest. iForest 11: 449-458. - doi: 10.3832/ifor2454-011

Academic Editor

Fulvio Ducci

Paper history

Received: Apr 06, 2017
Accepted: Apr 19, 2018

First online: Jul 02, 2018
Publication Date: Aug 31, 2018
Publication Time: 2.47 months

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