Special Issue "Genetic Resources and Adaptive Management of Conifers in a Changing World"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecology and Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 June 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Csaba Mátyás
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Forestry, University Sopron, HungaryInstitute of Environmental- and Geosciences, NEESPI Regional Focus Research Center for Nonboreal Eastern Europe
Interests: climate change impacts on forest ecosytems; conservation of genetic resouces; evolutionary ecology; production and use of forest reproductive material; forest genetics and breeding; genetics and improvement of Scots pine

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Conifer forests have been widely exploited and transformed by forestry (e.g., by long-range seed trade or selection for cultivation). Around the world, these forests currently display an unexpected vulnerability due to ongoing rapid climatic changes, extreme events, and the invasions of antagonists, which emphasizes the importance of their genetic resources, supporting adaptivity, and resilience. There exists an urgent need to translate research information into frameworks for conserving genetic resources and to support the resilience of conifer species to projected changes and threats. Both ecological and genetic research may significantly contribute to effective dynamic conservation and management strategies.

The planned Special Issue “Genetic Resources and Adaptive Management of Conifers in a Changing World” aims at supporting adaptive management and conservation of conifers by offering a platform for papers presenting new research results or thematic reviews which address knowledge gaps. Thematic fields include conifer genetic diversity or demographics, studies of common gardens or of (epi-)genetic, physiological, and developmental processes during acclimation, evolutionary and plastic responses to abiotic and biotic stress factors, range shifts, etc. Of interest are also issues linked to the ecological and genetic frameworks for restoration and management and to predict growth and survival responses, such as the effects of limiting site factors and extreme events (e.g., droughts), management interventions,  and antagonistic organisms on resilience or genetic resources.

Prof. Csaba Mátyás
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • conifers
  • genetic resources and conservation
  • climate change impacts
  • adaptation to changes
  • ecological and genetic limits of resilience
  • adaptive management

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Genetic Resources and Adaptive Management of Conifers in a Changing World
Forests 2021, 12(9), 1213; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12091213 - 06 Sep 2021
Viewed by 363
Abstract
Human activities have widely exploited and transformed the resources of coniferous species and ecosystems [...] Full article

Research

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Article
Climate Warming Impacts on Distributions of Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) Seed Zones and Seed Mass across Russia in the 21st Century
Forests 2021, 12(8), 1097; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12081097 - 16 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 456
Abstract
Research highlights: We investigated bioclimatic relationships between Scots pine seed mass and seed zones/climatypes across its range in Russia using extensive published data to predict seed zones and seed mass distributions in a changing climate and to reveal ecological and genetic components in [...] Read more.
Research highlights: We investigated bioclimatic relationships between Scots pine seed mass and seed zones/climatypes across its range in Russia using extensive published data to predict seed zones and seed mass distributions in a changing climate and to reveal ecological and genetic components in the seed mass variation using our 40-year common garden trial data. Introduction: seed productivity issues of the major Siberian conifers in Asian Russia become especially relevant nowadays in order to compensate for significant forest losses due to various disturbances during the 20th and current centuries. Our goals were to construct bioclimatic models that predict the seed mass of major Siberian conifers (Scots pine, one of the major Siberian conifers) in a warming climate during the current century. Methods: Multi-year seed mass data were derived from the literature and were collected during field work. Climate data (January and July data and annual precipitation) were derived from published reference books on climate and climatic websites. Our multiple regression bioclimatic models were constructed based on the climatic indices of growing degree days > 5 °C, negative degree days < 0 °C, and annual moisture index, which were calculated from January and July temperatures and annual precipitation for both contemporary and future climates. The future 2080 (2070–2100) January and July temperatures and annual precipitation anomalies were derived from the ensemble of twenty CMIP5 (the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, Phase 5) global circulation models (GCMs) and two scenarios using a mild RCP (Representative Concentration Pathway) 2.6 scenario and an extreme RCP 8.5 scenario. Results: Site climate explained about 70% of the seed mass variation across the Scots pine range. Genetic components explained 30% of the seed mass variation, as per the results from our common garden experiment in south central Siberia. Seed mass varied within 3.5 g (min) and 10.5 g (max) with the mean 6.1 g (n = 1150) across Russia. Our bioclimatic seed mass model predicted that a July temperature elevated by 1 °C increased seed mass by 0.56 g, and a January temperature elevated by 5 °C increased seed mass by 0.43 g. The seed mass would increase from 1 g to 4 g in the moderate RCP 2.6 and the extreme RCP 8.5 climates, respectively. Predicted seed zones with heavier seed would shift northwards in a warming climate. However, the permafrost border would halt this shifting due to slower permafrost thawing; thus, our predicted potential for Scots pine seed zones and seed mass would not be realized in the permafrost zone in a warmed climate. Our common garden experiment in central Siberia showed that trees of northerly origins produced lighter seeds than local trees but heavier ones than the trees at the original site. Trees of southerly origins produced heavier seeds than local trees but lighter seeds than the trees at the original site. Conclusions: The findings from this study could serve as blueprints for predicting new landscapes with climatic optima for Pinus sylvestris to produce better quality seeds to adjust to a warming climate. Full article
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Article
Surprising Drought Tolerance of Fir (Abies) Species between Past Climatic Adaptation and Future Projections Reveals New Chances for Adaptive Forest Management
Forests 2021, 12(7), 821; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12070821 - 22 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 497
Abstract
Research Highlights: Data of advanced-age provenance tests were reanalyzed applying a new approach, to directly estimate the growth of populations at their original sites under individually generated future climates. The results revealed the high resilience potential of fir species. Background and Objectives [...] Read more.
Research Highlights: Data of advanced-age provenance tests were reanalyzed applying a new approach, to directly estimate the growth of populations at their original sites under individually generated future climates. The results revealed the high resilience potential of fir species. Background and Objectives: The growth and survival of silver fir under future climatic scenarios are insufficiently investigated at the xeric limits. The selective signature of past climate determining the current and projected growth was investigated to analyze the prospects of adaptive silviculture and assisted transfer of silver fir populations, and the introduction of non-autochthonous species. Materials and Methods: Hargreaves’ climatic moisture deficit was selected to model height responses of adult populations. Climatic transfer distance was used to assess the relative drought stress of populations at the test site, relating these to the past conditions to which the populations had adapted. ClimateEU and ClimateWNA pathway RCP8.5 data served to determine individually past, current, and future moisture deficit conditions. Besides silver fir, other fir species from South Europe and the American Northwest were also tested. Results: Drought tolerance profiles explained the responses of transferred provenances and predicted their future performance and survival. Silver fir displayed significant within-species differentiation regarding drought stress response. Applying the assumed drought tolerance limit of 100 mm relative moisture deficit, most of the tested silver fir populations seem to survive their projected climate at their origin until the end of the century. Survival is likely also for transferred Balkan fir species and for grand fir populations, but not for the Mediterranean species. Conclusions: The projections are less dramatic than provided by usual inventory assessments, considering also the resilience of populations. The method fills the existing gap between experimentally determined adaptive response and the predictions needed for management decisions. It also underscores the unique potential of provenance tests. Full article
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Article
Wood Anatomical Traits Reveal Different Structure of Peat Bog and Lowland Populations of Pinus sylvestris L. in the Carpathian Region
Forests 2021, 12(4), 494; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12040494 - 16 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 623
Abstract
Ecologically extreme habitats at a species’ distribution edges bear significance for biota under adverse climatic conditions and climate change. Range-edge populations adjust their functional traits to the special local ecological conditions, leading to increased intraspecific variability in their morpho-anatomical structure and, consequently, favor [...] Read more.
Ecologically extreme habitats at a species’ distribution edges bear significance for biota under adverse climatic conditions and climate change. Range-edge populations adjust their functional traits to the special local ecological conditions, leading to increased intraspecific variability in their morpho-anatomical structure and, consequently, favor population survival in the absence of competitors. On the basis of wood anatomical traits, such as tracheid lumen area (CA), cell wall thickness (CWTrad), cell diameter-to-radial cell wall thickness ratio (CD/CWT), and the number of tracheids in the radial tracheid files (TNo), we investigated the xylem adjustment of Pinus sylvestris L. populations from six ecologically extreme habitats from the Eastern Carpathians and the Pannonian Basin. Results indicated significant differences among all studied sites in case of all wood anatomical traits as signs of the local adaptation of trees. Peat bog populations adapted their wood anatomical traits to the generally hydric, cool and anaerobic conditions of the peat bogs, exhibiting smaller CA and proportionally thick CWTrad to ensure the hydraulic safety of the stem, whereas, on the lowland site, trees were characterized by a more effective water-conducting system, developing larger CA with relatively thin CWTrad with lower carbon-per-conduit-costs at the expense of higher vulnerability to cavitation. Radial tree ring growth and TNo also differed markedly among sites, following the temperature and groundwater constraints of the habitats. Wood anatomical variability among tree rings and the corresponding short-term climate response of populations differed from the adaptive responses of the trees to the ecological characteristics of the habitat. In addition to the different phylogeographic origin evidenced in former studies, phenotypic differentiation by the habitat type of the studied populations linked to the variance in morpho-anatomical traits have contributed to the survival of the peripheral Scots pine populations at the species’ range margins. Full article
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Article
Early Performance of Tree Species in a Mountain Reforestation Experiment
Forests 2021, 12(2), 256; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12020256 - 23 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 635
Abstract
Climate change requires forest managers to explore new concepts in reforestation. High-elevation sites are posing challenges because the range of tree species that can cope with present and future conditions is small and limited experience with candidate species is available. Methods: We selected [...] Read more.
Climate change requires forest managers to explore new concepts in reforestation. High-elevation sites are posing challenges because the range of tree species that can cope with present and future conditions is small and limited experience with candidate species is available. Methods: We selected a mountain site with nutrient-poor silicatic soils. The previous Norway spruce (Picea abies) stand performed poorly. We established a reforestation experiment with 27 tree species that were planted in different combinations in order to evaluate silvicultural options. Site preparation activities and planting techniques reflected the locally applied regular procedures. After planting, we monitored height growth and phenological characteristics of needle/leaf development in spring. The presently dominant Norway spruce was genetically characterized. Results: Tree seedlings planted at high elevation are highly vulnerable. The temporal course of needle/leaf sprouting varies widely. Early developers are vulnerable to frost, impairing tree development. Biotic stressors such as high population densities of weevils or mice can cause high mortality. Conclusion: we suggest a conservative approach to tree species selection because present site conditions in mountain areas may impair the development of many tree species that could be viable options in a considerably warmer climate. Full article
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Article
Performance and Phenotypic Stability of Norway Spruce Provenances, Families, and Clones Growing under Diverse Climatic Conditions in Four Nordic Countries
Forests 2021, 12(2), 230; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12020230 - 17 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 536
Abstract
Genetic variation and phenotypic stability in Norway spruce were studied based on provenances, families, and clones planted in trials at 12 sites in four Nordic countries. The families were generated in a factorial cross between 10 parents of Norwegian origin and 10 parents [...] Read more.
Genetic variation and phenotypic stability in Norway spruce were studied based on provenances, families, and clones planted in trials at 12 sites in four Nordic countries. The families were generated in a factorial cross between 10 parents of Norwegian origin and 10 parents of Eastern European origin, and the clones were propagated from seedlings within 20 of the same families. Traits analyzed were survival, proportion of trees with stem defects, and tree heights. Stability was analyzed by regression analyses with the genetic entries’ annual shoot increment as the dependent variable and the total site mean as an environmental index. Information about growth and phenology traits were available from short-term tests. For tree heights, significant variance components were present both among female and male parents, but not for their interactions, indicating that non-additive genetic effects are small. Genotype × environment interactions were significant at all three genetic levels, but their variance components had considerably lower values than the variance components estimated for the effects of families and clones. For the set of families of Norwegian origin, strong relationships were observed between the timing of annual shot elongation, mortality, and height growth. Large variation was found at all three genetic levels for phenotypic stability measured by regression coefficients. A positive relationship was present between the regression coefficient and the timing of annual shoot growth for families, indicating that later flushing families responded more to a high site index. The regression coefficient can be a useful supplement to the breeding value when selecting for superior and stable genotypes. Full article
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Article
Reciprocal Common Garden Altitudinal Transplants Reveal Potential Negative Impacts of Climate Change on Abies religiosa Populations in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve Overwintering Sites
Forests 2021, 12(1), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010069 - 09 Jan 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 804 | Correction
Abstract
Research Highlights: Reciprocal altitudinal transplants of Abies religiosa seedlings within the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (MBBR) allow prediction of the impacts of climatic change, because they grow in sites with a climate that differs from that of their origin. Background and Objectives: Climatic [...] Read more.
Research Highlights: Reciprocal altitudinal transplants of Abies religiosa seedlings within the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (MBBR) allow prediction of the impacts of climatic change, because they grow in sites with a climate that differs from that of their origin. Background and Objectives: Climatic change is generating a mismatch between the sites currently occupied by forest populations and the climate to which they have adapted. This study determined the effect on the survival and growth of A. religiosa seedlings of transfer to sites that were warmer or colder than that of the origin of their seeds. Materials and Methods: Eleven provenances of A. religiosa, collected along an altitudinal gradient (3000 to 3550 m a.s.l.), were assayed in common gardens in three sites of contrasting altitude: 3400, 3000 and 2600 m a.s.l. The results were evaluated by fitting a response curve with a mixed model. Results: The climate transfer distance for the seasonal balance between the temperature conducive to growth (degree days above 5 °C) and the available precipitation (a ratio expressed as dryness index) dominated the shape of the response function curve. The rainy season (June–October) dryness index transfer distance was critical for survival, while that of the cold and dry season (November–February) was critical for aerial biomass, and the annual index was critical for the increase in basal diameter. The effect of climatic transfer distance is much more negative (triggering about 45% mortality) when transfer is toward warmer and dryer sites (at 400 m lower in altitude, +1.9 °C warmer and 16% less precipitation), than when shifting toward colder and wetter sites (400 m higher in altitude, resulting in 95% survival). Conclusions: The projected higher temperatures and lower precipitation due to climatic change will undoubtedly cause severe mortality in young A. religiosa seedlings. A 400 m shift upwards in altitude to compensate for climatic change (assisted migration) appears to be a feasible management action. Full article
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Article
Species, Climatypes, Climate Change, and Forest Health: A Conversion of Science to Practice for Inland Northwest (USA) Forests
Forests 2020, 11(12), 1237; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11121237 - 24 Nov 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 869
Abstract
Research Highlights: This paper integrates disparate research results pertaining to climate change impacts to 12 co-occurring forest tree species and their climatypes such that management options for the ecosystem as a whole become discernible. Background and Objectives: The ecosystem under analysis [...] Read more.
Research Highlights: This paper integrates disparate research results pertaining to climate change impacts to 12 co-occurring forest tree species and their climatypes such that management options for the ecosystem as a whole become discernible. Background and Objectives: The ecosystem under analysis is the Thuja-Tsuga forest ecosystem, occupying ca. 121,500 km2 in a largely mountainous setting in the interior northwest, USA. Our goal is to present land management options tied directly to climate-change in a straightforward framework for both the current and future generations. Materials and Methods: By merging synecological and genecological concepts in a climatic framework, we simplify complex interactions in a manner that relates directly to climate change impacts. Species and climatype distributions are redefined in terms of mean annual temperature and elevation of forested landscapes. Results: For each 2 °C increase in temperature, plant associations should shift upwards ca. 400 m, provided precipitation remains at or near contemporary levels, which, for this ecosystem, vary between 300 mm and 1450 mm. Management guidelines are developed for (a) selecting climatypes of the species suited to the climate at the leading edge of the migration front, (b) anticipating decline at the trailing edge, and (c) converting climatypes in areas where species should persist. Conclusions: Our results can provide robust strategies for adapting forest management to the effects of climate change, but their effectiveness is dependent on the implementation of global warming mitigation actions. Full article
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Article
Seed Sourcing Strategies Considering Climate Change Forecasts: A Practical Test in Scots Pine
Forests 2020, 11(11), 1222; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11111222 - 20 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 934
Abstract
Research Highlights: 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 [...] Read more.
Research Highlights: 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. Full article
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Article
Predicting Suitable Habitats of Camptotheca acuminata Considering Both Climatic and Soil Variables
Forests 2020, 11(8), 891; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11080891 - 17 Aug 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 960
Abstract
Camptotheca acuminata is considered a natural medicinal plant with antitumor activity. The assessment of climate change impact on its suitable habitats is important for cultivation and conservation. In this study, we applied a novel approach to build ecological niche models with both climate [...] Read more.
Camptotheca acuminata is considered a natural medicinal plant with antitumor activity. The assessment of climate change impact on its suitable habitats is important for cultivation and conservation. In this study, we applied a novel approach to build ecological niche models with both climate and soil variables while the confounding effects between the variables in the two categories were avoided. We found that the degree-days below zero and mean annual precipitation were the most important climatic factors, while the basic soil saturation, soil gravel volume percentage, and clay content were the main soil factors, determining the suitable habitats of C. acuminata. We found that suitable habitats of this species would moderately increase in future climates under both the RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 climate change scenarios for the 2020s, 2050s, and 2080s. However, substantial shifts among levels of habitat suitability were projected. The dual high-suitable habitats would expand, which would be favorable for commercial plantations. Our findings contribute to a better understanding of the impact of climate change on this species and provide a scientific basis for the cultivation and conservation purposes. Full article
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Review

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Review
Assisted Migration Field Tests in Canada and Mexico: Lessons, Limitations, and Challenges
Forests 2021, 12(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010009 - 23 Dec 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1306
Abstract
Assisted migration of forest tree populations through reforestation and restoration is a climate change adaptation strategy under consideration in many jurisdictions. Matching climates in which seed sources evolved with near future climates projected for plantation sites should help reduce maladaptation and increase plantation [...] Read more.
Assisted migration of forest tree populations through reforestation and restoration is a climate change adaptation strategy under consideration in many jurisdictions. Matching climates in which seed sources evolved with near future climates projected for plantation sites should help reduce maladaptation and increase plantation health and productivity. For threatened tree species, assisted migration outside of the species range could help avert extinction. Here, we examine lessons, limitations, and challenges of assisted migration through the lens of three assisted migration field trials of conifers in Canada and Mexico: Pinus albicaulis Engelm., an endangered subalpine tree species in the mountains of western North America; the Picea glauca (Moench) Voss × P. engelmannii Parry ex Engelm hybrid complex, of great economic and ecological importance in western Canada, and Abies religiosa (Kunth) Schltdl. & Cham., a tree species that provides overwintering sites for the monarch butterfly. We conclude that: (a) negative impacts of climate change on productivity of Picea glauca × P. engelmannii may be mitigated by planting seed sources from locations that are 3 °C mean coldest month temperature warmer than the plantation; (b) it is possible to establish Pinus albicaulis outside of its current natural distribution at sites that have climates that are within the species’ modelled historic climatic niche, although developing disease-resistant trees through selective breeding is a higher priority in the short term; (c) Abies religiosa performs well when moved 400 m upward in elevation and local shrubs (such as Baccharis conferta Kunth) are used as nurse plants; (d) new assisted migration field trials that contain populations from a wide range of climates tested in multiple disparate climates are needed, despite the costs; and (e) where naturalization of a migrated tree species in recipient ecosystem is viewed as undesirable, the invasive potential of the tree species should be assessed prior to large scale establishment, and stands should be monitored regularly following establishment. Full article
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