Fossil and genetic history of a pinyon pine (Pinus edulis) isolate

J. L. Betancourt, W. S. Schuster, J. B. Mitton, R. S. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


The most isolated northern stand of Colorado pinyon pine at Owl Canyon, Colorado, has a broad and flat size class distribution common to population expansions, with the largest and oldest trees near the center of the grove. Analyses of fossil packrat Neotoma middens within the grove indicate that the stand originated by long-distance dispersal rather than by vicariance. The 5000-yr pollen and macrofossil record suggests that pinyon pine colonized the site sometime between 1290-420 yr BP, the latter age corresponding to the oldest tree in the stand. Electrophoretic data show that this colonization was not attended by typical founder effects predicted by theory or observed for other known founder events. The Owl Canyon stand has not suffered significant losses in genetic variation relative to likely source populations. Large initial population size, multiple founding events, rapid population growth, or selection favoring heterozygous genotypes could all explain the high heterozygosity and only slightly reduced polymorphism and number of alleles per locus. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1685-1697
Number of pages13
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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