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In natural plant populations, the spatial genetic structure (SGS) is occasionally associated with evolutionary and ecological features such as the mating system, individual fitness, inbreeding depression and natural selection of the species of interest. The very rare Mexican P. chihuahuana tree community covers an area no more than 300 ha and has been the subject of several studies concerning its ecology and population genetics. The overall aim of most of these studies has been to obtain data to help design preservation and conservation strategies. However, analysis of the fine-scale SGS in this special forest tree community has not yet been conducted, which might help enrich the above mentioned conservation programs. In this study, we examined the SGS of this community, mostly formed by P. chihuahuana Martínez, Pinus strobiformis Ehrenberg ex Schlechtendah, Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco, and Populus tremuloides Michx, in 14 localities at both the fine and large scales, with the aim of obtaining a better understanding of evolutionary processes. We observed a non-significant autocorrelation in fine-scale SGS, suggesting that the genetic variants of all four tree species are randomly distributed in space within each sampled plot of 50 x 50 m. At the larger scale, the autocorrelation was highly significant for P. chihuahuana and P. menziesii, probably as a result of insufficient gene flow due to the extreme population isolation and small sizes. For these two species our results provided strong support for the theory of isolation by distance.
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