The site frequency spectrum of mutations (SFS) and linkage disequilibrium (LD) are the two major sources of information in population genetics studies. In this study we focus on the levels of LD and the SFS and on the effect of sample size on summary statistics in 10 Scandinavian populations of Norway spruce. We found that previous estimates of a low level of LD were highly influenced by both sampling strategy and the fact that data from multiple loci were analyzed jointly. Estimates of LD were in fact heterogeneous across loci and increased within individual populations compared with the estimate from the total data. The variation in levels of LD among populations most likely reflects different demographic histories, although we were unable to detect population structure by using standard approaches. As in previous studies, we also found that the SFS-based test Tajima's D was highly sensitive to sample size, revealing that care should be taken to draw strong conclusions from this test when sample size is small. In conclusion, the results from this study are in line with recent studies in other conifers that have revealed a more complex and variable pattern of LD than earlier studies suggested and with studies in trees and humans that suggest that Tajima's D is sensitive to sample size. This has large consequences for the design of future association and population genetic studies in Norway spruce.
Keywords: Tajima’s D; conifer; linkage disequilibrium; recombination; resampling.