Using genetic diversity and mating system parameters estimated from genetic markers to determine strategies for the conservation of Araucaria angustifolia (Bert.) O. Kuntze (Araucariaceae)
Paternity analysis based on eight microsatellite loci was used to investigate pollen and seed dispersal patterns of the dioecious wind-pollinated tree, Araucaria angustifolia. The study sites were a 5.4 ha isolated forest fragment and a small tree group situated 1.7 km away, located in Paranα State, Brazil. In the forest fragment, 121 males, 99 females, 66 seedlings and 92 juveniles were mapped and genotyped, together with 210 seeds. In the tree group, nine male and two female adults were mapped and genotyped, together with 20 seeds. Paternity analysis within the forest fragment indicated that at least 4% of the seeds, 3% of the seedlings and 7% of the juveniles were fertilized by pollen from trees in the adjacent group, and 6% of the seeds were fertilized by pollen from trees outside these stands. The average pollination distance within the forest fragment was 83 m; when the tree group was included the pollination distance was 2006 m. The average number of effective pollen donors was estimated as 12.6. Mother-trees within the fragment could be assigned to all seedlings and juveniles, suggesting an absence of seed immigration. The distance of seedlings and juveniles from their assigned mother-trees ranged from 0.35 to 291 m (with an average of 83 m). Significant spatial genetic structure among adult trees, seedlings, and juveniles was detected up to 50 m, indicating seed dispersal over a short distance. The effective pollination neighborhood ranged from 0.4 to 3.3 ha. The results suggest that seed dispersal is restricted but that there is long-distance pollen dispersal between the forest fragment and the tree group; thus, the two stands of trees are not isolated.