We experimentally tested different seed sourcing strategies (local, predictive, climate-predictive, climate-adjusted, composite and admixture) under a climate change high emissions scenario using a Scots pine multi-site provenance test. Background and Objectives:
There is an urgent need to conserve genetic resources and to support resilience of conifer species facing expected changes and threats. Seed sourcing strategies have been proposed to maximize the future adaptation and resilience of our forests. However, these proposals are yet to be tested, especially in long-lived organisms as forest trees, due to methodological constraints. In addition, some methods rely on the transfer of material from populations matching the future conditions of the sites. However, at the rear edge of the species, some specific problems (high fragmentation, high genetic differentiation, role of genetic drift) challenge the theoretical expectations of some of these methods. Materials and Methods:
We used a Scots pine multi-site provenance test, consisting of seventeen provenances covering the distribution range of the species in Spain tested in five representative sites. We measured height, diameter and survival at 5, 10 and 15 years after planting. We simulated populations of 50 trees by bootstrapping material of the provenance test after removing the intra-site environmental effects, simulating different seed sourcing strategies. Results:
We found that local and predictive methods behaved better than methods based on the selection of future climate-matching strategies (predictive-climate and climate-adjusted) and those combining several seed sources (composite and admixture seed sourcing strategies). Conclusions:
Despite the theoretical expectations, for Scots pine, a forest tree species at its rear edge of its distribution, seed-sourcing methods based on climate matching or a combination of seed sources do not perform better than traditional local or predictive methods or they are not feasible because of the lack of future climate-matching populations.
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