Table Mountain pine (Pinus pungens): Genetic diversity and conservation of an imperiled conifer


Table Mountain pine (Pinus pungens Lamb.) is an imperiled tree species endemic to the southern and central Appalachian Mountains. Generally reliant on fire for regeneration, its fragmented but widespread distribution has declined in recent decades. We quantified the genetic diversity of 26 populations across the range of the species using data from seven highly polymorphic simple sequence repeat (SSR) loci. The species was relatively inbred whereas differentiation among populations was relatively low. Differentiation was significantly but weakly associated with geographic distance among populations. We detected minor genetic differences between northern and southern seed collection zones established based on climate similarity. We conducted a series of simulations using SSR data from 498 seedlings, grown from seed collected from five natural stands of Table Mountain pine, to assess the genetic consequences of different strategies for deploying collected seed in ex situ conservation plantings. Results indicated that reducing the number of families in a planting would not substantially affect the conservation of common alleles but would affect the representation of rare alleles and overall allelic richness. These findings add to our limited knowledge of genetic variation across the distribution of this rare conifer and offer some guidance for its effective genetic conservation.

  • Citation: Potter, K.M.; Jetton, R.M. ; Whittier, W.A.;  Crane, B.S..; Hipkins,  V.D. ;  Echt, C.; Hodge, G.R.  2022. Table Mountain pine (Pinus pungens): Genetic diversity and conservation of an imperiled conifer. Forest Science. 69(1): 58-72.
  • Keywords: Gene conservation, inbreeding, microsatellite, population isolation, rare species, sampling
  • Posted Date: February 6, 2023
  • Modified Date: February 9, 2023
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