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Journal of Arid Land  2018, Vol. 10 Issue (5): 750-766    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0015-0
Orginal Article     
Clones or no clones: genetic structure of riparian Populus euphratica forests in Central Asia
KRAMP Katja1,*(), SCHMITT Thomas1,2, LANG Petra3, JESCHKE Michael3, SCH?FER Philipp3, KULANEK Dustin1, Ximing ZHANG4, Ruide YU4,5, M THOMAS Frank3
1 Senckenberg German Entomological Institute, Eberswalder Stra?e 90, Müncheberg 15374, Germany;
2 Department of Zoology, Faculty Natural Sciences I, Institute of Biology, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle (Saale) 06099, Germany
3 Faculty of Regional and Environmental Sciences, University of Trier, Campus II, Behringstra?e 21, Trier 54296, Germany;
4 Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China
5 Sino-German Joint Research Center for the Management of Ecosystems and Environmental Changes in Arid Lands (MEECAL), Urumqi 830011, China
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Many riparian (Tugai) forests growing along rivers in arid and hyper-arid regions of Central Asia are dominated by the Euphrates poplar (Populus euphratica). Besides generative reproduction, which is only possible upon flooding events and at a distance to the groundwater of less than 2 m, this phreatophytic tree species also reproduces vegetatively by forming clones that can cover land surface areas of several hectares. Along a gradient of groundwater distances, we investigated whether the fraction of clones in P. euphratica stands (1) increases with increasing distance to the water table; (2) is higher if supplied with water via river cut-offs; and (3) approaches 100% at a short distance to the groundwater, but at high salt concentrations in the upper soil layers, which would prevent germination and establishment of seedlings. AFLP (Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism) analyses were conducted on leaf samples taken from mature P. euphratica trees growing at the fringes of the Taklimakan Desert in stands with different distances (2-12 m) to the groundwater at two plots at the middle and the lower reaches of the Tarim River and in a stand close to Ebinur Lake, Xinjiang, China. Genetic diversity was large among plots, but considerably smaller within plots. We found the highest genetic diversity (caused by regeneration from seeds) at plots that have a short distance to the groundwater or are supplied with additional water. There was no significant relationship between groundwater distance and clonal fraction. All investigated trees at the saline Ebinur Lake site belonged to one single clone. Our results demonstrate that the genetic pattern of this widespread species is not easily predictable even over small distances as it is a result of a complex interplay of stand history and dispersal of propagules (pollen, seeds, and vegetative diaspores) by wind and water. In conservation and restoration schemes, P. euphratica stands with a high genetic diversity and stands that grow at short distances to the water table and are regularly subjected to flooding (which favors generative over clonal reproduction) should be prioritized.

Key wordsclonality      floodplain forest      ground water      phreatophyte      population genetics      rejuvenation      salinity     
Received: 23 February 2018      Published: 10 October 2018
Corresponding Authors: KRAMP Katja     E-mail:
Cite this article:

KRAMP Katja, SCHMITT Thomas, LANG Petra, JESCHKE Michael, SCH?FER Philipp, KULANEK Dustin, Ximing ZHANG, Ruide YU, M THOMAS Frank. Clones or no clones: genetic structure of riparian Populus euphratica forests in Central Asia. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(5): 750-766.

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