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Abstract Detail

Conservation Biology

Potter, Kevin M. [1], Hargrove, William W. [2], Koch, Frank H. [1].

Population-Level Assessment of Climate Change Genetic Risk in North American Forest Trees.

Changing climatic conditions could pose a severe threat to forest tree species, which may be forced to adapt to new conditions or shift their ranges to more favorable environments. On-site adaptation, range-shift and population extirpation all could have negative genetic consequences. To determine the potential impacts of these processes, we are assessing the risk posed by climate change to the genetic integrity of North American forest tree populations. Our work has three central objectives: 1) Forecasting future suitable locations for at least 100 North American tree species under two climate change models; 2) predicting the general risk of extirpation for existing populations of those species; and 3) assessing the actual susceptibility of species to genetic degradation and population extirpation, given these results and understanding of species biology. We will illustrate the project with results from species across North America, with an emphasis on eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa). To meet our first objective, we are using the Multivariate Spatio-Temporal Clustering (MSTC) technique to predict the location of future suitable habitat for forest tree species under the Hadley model and Parallel Climate Model (PCM) in 2050 and 2100, looking at high-emissions and low-emissions scenarios for each. For the second objective, we are measuring the straight-line Minimum Required Movement (MRM) distance from the existing locations of each species to the nearest favorable future habitat in 2100. The greater this distance, the less likely a species will be able to reach the nearest suitable habitat, and the more likely it will become locally extirpated. For the third objective, we are synthesizing existing knowledge about the biology and genetic diversity of individual species with the MSTC and MRM maps to conduct spatially explicit assessments of genetic degradation risk.

Broader Impacts:
The results of this work should be valuable for scientists, managers and policymakers attempting to determine which forest tree species and populations, in the face of climate change, should be targeted 1) for monitoring efforts, including by the USDA Forest Service Forest Health Monitoring program, 2) for in situ and ex situ conservation actions, and 3) for genetic diversity studies. The results also should be useful for land-use planners and conservation organizations interested in identifying geographic locations that could be preserved as important future habitat for at-risk tree species.

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1 - North Carolina State University, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, Forest Sciences Laboratory, 3041 Cornwallis Road, Research Triangle Park, NC, 27709, USA
2 - USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, 200 Weaver Blvd., Asheville, NC, 28804, USA

climate change
Genetic diversity
Forest trees
risk assessment
conservation genetics
Tsuga canadensis
Pinus ponderosa.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Topics
Session: 52
Location: 551A/Convention Center
Date: Wednesday, August 4th, 2010
Time: 11:45 AM
Number: 52007
Abstract ID:543

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