Answers blowing in the wind: A quarter century of genetic studies of polllination in oaks
journal contributionposted on 07.05.2021, 16:52 by Mary Ashley
For the past 25 years, the twin tools of highly variable genetic markers (microsatellites) and paternity assignment have provided a powerful approach for investigating pollination patterns in trees, including many Quercus species. Early studies consistently demonstrated surprisingly abundant and extensive long-distance pollen movement in oaks. Indeed, numerous studies showed high levels of pollen immigration (50% or more), even for relatively isolated stands of oaks. Research also characterized fertilization patterns within stands and between hybridizing species in mixed stands. More recent studies have expanded our knowledge of genetic exchange effected by successful pollen movement, identified even more remarkable examples of the distances Quercus pollen can travel, and examined pollination patterns in relictual populations as well as those at the leading edges of range expansion. While the paradigm of long distance pollination continues to hold, a few recent studies that have also revealed the limits of pollen movement, identifying cases of reproductive isolation in extreme situations, where populations are at risk. This review will highlight what has been learned about Quercus pollination, what questions remain, and propose implications for forest management in the face of changing landscapes and climates.