The tandem analysis of dendrochronological and genetic data is piquing forest ecologists’ interest and represents a promising approach for studying the temporal development of genetic structure in forest tree populations. Such multidisciplinary approach can help elucidate to what extent different management practices have impacted the fine-scale spatial genetic structure of forest stands through time. In this study, we jointly analysed spatial, age and genetic data from three differently managed Norway spruce permanent plots to assess: (1) possible differences among plots in the spatial distribution of individuals and their genetic structure due to different management practices, and (2) whether modifications in the age structure influenced the fine-scale spatial genetic structure within each permanent plot. With these aims, we genetically characterized at five nuclear microsatellite markers a large subset (328) of all the trees for which spatial and age data were collected (1472). We found that different management practices determined a similar spatial structure in terms of trees’ ages (r < 25 m in all plots) and neutral genetic diversity (Sp ranging from 0.002 to 0.004). Hot spots and cold spots of trees’ age were not statistically different in terms of genetic diversity, and trees’ age was not statistically different among the genetic clusters detected. On the other hand, the spatial distribution of individuals was significantly clustered up to 22 m only in the wooded pasture plot. Our main findings show that forest land use and management can indeed determine markedly different spatial layouts of Norway spruce individuals but do not produce strong distortions in the spatial structure of age and genetic parameters.
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