Evaluating restoration outcomes through assessment of pollen dispersal, mating system, and genetic diversity

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Abstract

Ecological genetics can provide a novel contribution to assessing the achievement of restoration objectives. We used paternity assignment to infer realized pollen dispersal within, and pollen immigration into, a restoration population of Hakea nitida, a common near-coastal shrub or small tree in southwest Australia. We compared mating system parameters and genetic diversity with a nearby remnant reference population and assessed genetic divergence among the restoration and reference populations. We found realized pollen dispersal events closely tracked the frequency distributions of the distances between all plants within the restoration focus area. Mean realized pollen dispersal distance (359 m) approached the mean of the distances between all plants (407 m), far exceeding mean nearest neighbor distance (12 m). Maximum realized pollen dispersal distance (869 m) approached the maximum distance between all plants in the study area (1,033 m). Pollen immigration into the restoration study area was limited (4%). The mating system revealed moderate outcrossing rates (tm = 0.861 restoration and tm = 0.745 reference population), with significant and similar biparental inbreeding (tm − ts = 0.180, tm− ts = 0.186) but greater correlated paternity (rpm) in the restoration (0.519) than in the reference (0.188) population. Genetic divergence among the restoration and reference remnant population was moderate (FST = 0.094, DST = 0.239). Patterns of pollen dispersal and mating system parameters imply the attraction of pollinators within the restoration population as a key factor in progressing towards the establishment of self-sustaining populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13335
JournalRestoration Ecology
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

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