A simulation-based modelling approach is used to examine the effects of stratified seed dispersal (representing the distribution of the majority of dispersal around the maternal parent and also rare long-distance dispersal) on the genetic structure of maternally inherited genomes and the colonization rate of expanding plant populations. The model is parameterized to approximate postglacial oak colonization in the UK, but is relevant to plant populations that exhibit stratified seed dispersal. The modelling approach considers the colonization of individual plants over a large area (three 500 km x 10 km rolled transects are used to approximate a 500 km x 300 km area). Our approach shows how the interaction of plant population dynamics with stratified dispersal can result in a spatially patchy haplotype structure. We show that while both colonization speeds and the resulting genetic structure are influenced by the characteristics of the dispersal kernel, they are robust to changes in the periodicity of long-distance events, provided the average number of long-distance dispersal events remains constant. We also consider the effects of additional physical and environmental mechanisms on plant colonization. Results show significant changes in genetic structure when the initial colonization of different haplotypes is staggered over time and when a barrier to colonization is introduced. Environmental influences on survivorship and fecundity affect both the genetic structure and the speed of colonization. The importance of these mechanisms in relation to the postglacial spread and genetic structure of oak in the UK is discussed.
- Population structure
- Seed dispersal