Forest ecosystems in Europe are expected to experience changes in temperature and water regimes associated with increased risks of extreme environmental events and disasters. Genetic diversity and relatedness has been linked to resilience of forest stands and landscapes. Genetic diversity indicators were compared between a Norway spruce population naturally regenerated after extensive windthrow and Norway spruce progeny populations derived from two seed orchards. In addition, genetic diversity in an undisturbed stand in a long established national park and a spruce genetic resource stand were analyzed. Populations were genotyped at 11 simple sequence repeat (SSR) loci. Average genetic diversity indicators were similar across populations. However, the total number of alleles, average number of alleles over all loci, effective number of alleles, average gene diversity, and average allelic richness were highest in the naturally regenerated population and lowest in one of the seed orchard progeny populations. The genetic diversity in progeny from seed orchards used for stand renewal is comparable to the genetic diversity in naturally regenerated stands. However, fluctuations in seed production between years can have a large impact on genetic diversity in seed orchard progeny. The use of improved Norway spruce germplasm deployed via clonal seed orchards for forest renewal can maintain similar levels of genetic diversity compared to naturally regenerated stands, while also increasing production and timber quality.
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