Genetic assessment of the value of restoration planting within an endangered eucalypt woodland
Assessment of woodland restoration often focusses on stand demographics, but genetic factors likely influence long-term stand viability. We examined the genetic composition of Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora) trees in endangered Box-Gum Grassy Woodland in SE Australia, some 30 years after planting with seeds of reportedly local provenance. Using DArT sequencing for 1406 SNPs, we compared genetic diversity and population structure of planted E. melliodora trees with remnant bushland trees, paddock trees and natural recruits. Genetic patterns imply that natural stands and paddock trees had historically high gene flow (among group pairwise FST = 0.04–0.10). Genetic diversity was highest among relictual paddock trees (He = 0.17), while diversity of revegetated trees was identical to natural bushland trees (He = 0.14). Bayesian clustering placed the revegetated trees into six genetic groups with four corresponding to genotypes from paddock trees, indicating that revegetated stands are mainly of genetically diverse, local provenance. Natural recruits were largely derived from paddock trees with some contribution from planted trees. A few trees have likely hybridised with other local eucalypt species which are unlikely to compromise stand integrity. We show that paddock trees have high genetic diversity and capture historic genetic variety and provide important foci for natural recruitment of genetically diverse and outcrossed seedlings.
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NSW Department of Planning,Industry and Environment