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An approach to genetic resources conservation of peripheral isolated plant populations: the case of an island narrow endemic species

Eliades, Nicolas-George H., Papageorgiou, Aristotelis C., Fady, Bruno, Gailing, Oliver, Leinemann, Ludger, Finkeldey, Reiner
Biodiversity and conservation 2019 v.28 no.11 pp. 3005-3035
Cedrus libani subsp. brevifolia, demography, ex situ conservation, forests, genetic resources, genetic variation, germplasm conservation, in situ conservation, indigenous species, inheritance (genetics), microsatellite repeats, plantations, screening, seedlings, trees, viability
This study reinforces the argument that forest genetic resources for peripheral isolated plant populations (PIPP) need to come under rationalistic assessment, for developing and proposing conservation strategies of forest genetic resources. Cedrus brevifolia is a narrow endemic island tree occurring in a sole population. Using biparentally and paternally inherited microsatellites, the genetic contribution and genetic variation patterns within sites (subpopulations) and within plantations of this species were assessed. The C. brevifolia population recorded uneven partition of genetic diversity at the site and at local scales; mirroring the demography and genetic evolutionary factors that occurred in long-term at the intra-species level. Results from the plantations imply that screening and rejection of unsuitable seedlings before plantation establishment did not influence the genetic divergence of planted trees from the general genetic pool of natural population. Based on these outcomes, numerous conservation measures are proposed, towards maintaining the species’ genetic resources. These measures need to ensure the dynamic processes within stands. Thus, this study argues that for PIPP which recorded high genetic diversity and non-uniform distribution of genetic viability (complex genetic patterns), the several small conservation units seem to be the most rationalistic conservation units. In such case, forest genetic micro-reserves (GMR) can be enacted, where on-the-point dynamic in situ conservation activities can be adopted, while the GMR could be used for ex situ conservation purposes. In conclusion, in PIPP the maintenance of genetic diversity should be regarded as one of the main prerequisites for sustainable management and long-term survival of the species.