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Title: Interactions between natural and anthropogenic impacts on the genetic diversity and population genetic structure of European beech forests
Author: Sjolund, M. Jennifer
ISNI:       0000 0004 5358 9795
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2014
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The accurate assessment of forest persistence under environmental change is dependent on the fundamental understanding of the genetic consequences of human intervention and its comparison to that of natural processes, as declines in genetic diversity and changes in its structuring can compromise the adaptive ability of a population. The European beech, Fagus sylvatica, has experienced prolonged human impact over its 14 million ha range with contemporary forests harbouring high ecological, economic, and cultural value. Historical traditional management practices, such as coppicing and pollarding, have impacted a large portion of Europe’s forests. This form of management encouraged vegetative regeneration, prolonging the longevity of individual trees. In several cases, the structure and function of managed trees and their associated ecosystems were significantly altered. Specifically, coppiced beech forests in Europe displayed significantly larger extents of spatial genetic structuring compared to their natural counterparts, revealing a change in the genetic composition of the population due to decades of management. Humans have also aided in the dispersal of beech within and outside of its natural range. In Great Britain, the putative native range retained signals of past colonisation dynamics. However, these signals were obscured by the wide-spread translocation of the species throughout the country. Evidence of post-glacial colonisation dynamics can be found in Sweden as well. In contrast to Britain, the structure of this natural leading range edge displays a gradual reduction in population size where isolation was found to have acted as an effective barrier to gene flow reducing the genetic diversity of populations.
Supervisor: Jump, Alistair Sponsor: Natural Environment Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Genetic diversity ; Fagus sylvatica ; Beech ; Spatial genetic structure ; Population genetics ; Gene flow ; Forests ; Conservation ; Sylviculture ; Management ; Native ; Isolation ; Fragmentation ; Phylogeography ; Range limits ; Bayesian Clustering ; Forests and forestry Europe ; Forest ecology ; Trees Genetics ; Plant Genetics