The potential for gene flow from exotic eucalypt plantations into Australia's rare native eucalypts
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Barbour, RC and Wise, S and McKinnon, GE and Vaillancourt, RE and Williamson, G and Potts, BM, The potential for gene flow from exotic eucalypt plantations into Australia's rare native eucalypts, Forest Ecology and Management, 260, (12) pp. 2079-2087. ISSN 0378-1127 (2010) [Refereed Article]
Hybridisation through pollen dispersal from exotic plants is increasingly recognised as a threat to the genetic integrity of native plant populations. Its genetic impact can be greater in rare taxa, due to their vulnerability to pollen swamping by more abundant congeners. We assessed the likelihood of pollen dispersal from exotic eucalypt plantations into all of Australia's rare native eucalypts, and conducted a case study of Eucalyptus perriniana, which is rare in Tasmania. The Australia-wide study involved spatial analyses of the locations for each rare species superimposed on distributions of eucalypt plantations, which were combined with known taxonomically based reproductive barriers. Of the 74 nationally listed rare eucalypt taxa, 22 had locations within 10km of plantations of the same genus, and eight were within 1km. These eight proximal taxa are considered priorities for monitoring. In the most extreme case, 30% of point locations originating from herbarium records and field surveys for Eucalyptus conglomerata were within 1km of exotic plantations. In the case study, E. perriniana revealed considerable reproductive compatibility with adjacent recently established Eucalyptus nitens plantations. However, F 1 hybridisation between these species was limited, with 0.2% of the 18,625 seedlings grown from 100 single-tree open-pollinated seedlots being hybrids. For now, the probability of exotic gene flow into E. perriniana appears to be low, however this probability is likely to increase as more E. nitens flowers in the surrounding landscape. These studies suggest that understanding the breeding system and biology of these populations may reveal surprising resistance to such exotic hybridisation as well as identifying high risk situations to focus conservation management. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.
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