Camellia japonica L. (Theaceae), an insect- and bird-pollinated, broad-leaved evergreen tree, is widely distributed in Japan and the southern Korean peninsula. The species has a relatively even age distribution within populations, which may influence the spatial genetic structure of different age classes relative to species with typical L-shaped age distributions. To determine whether the internal spatial genetic structure found in seedlings and young individuals carries over into adults, we used allozyme loci, F-statistics, spatial autocorrelation statistics (Moran's I), and coancestry measures to examine changes in genetic structure among seven age classes in a population (60-m × 100-m area) in southern Korea. In seedlings, weak but significant positive values of Moran's I-statistics and coancestry measures were found for distances less than 14 m, which is consistent with a mechanism of limited seed dispersal combined with overlapping seed shadows. This spatial structure, however, dissipates in older age classes, and in adults genetic variation has an essentially random spatial distribution. Morisita's index of dispersion of individuals in each age class showed that seedlings and juveniles are more highly clustered than are older individuals. These results suggest that self-thinning changes the spatial relationships of individuals, and thus genotypes. A multilocus estimate of FST (0.008) shows a small but statistically significant difference in allele frequencies among age classes. In summary, intrapopulation genetic structure within and among age classes of C. japonica was significant but weak. Despite presumably limited seed dispersal, weak spatial genetic structure in juveniles suggests overlapping seed shadows followed by self-thinning during recruitment. The present study also demonstrates that studies of spatial genetic structure focusing on limited numbers of generations may not be sufficient to reveal the entire picture of genetic structure in populations with overlapping generations.
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Vol. 57 • No. 1