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Climate-Driven Genetic Differences Affect Big Sagebrush Survival

Genetic adaptation of sagebrush seedlings can influence the success of aridland restoration. To explore the survival of genetically distinct big sagebrush seedlings, researchers studied seedlings from 55 source-populations, including predominant subspecies and cytotype variations, and monitored their survival in common gardens for five years. Researchers found evidence of adaptive genetic variation for survival. Survival within gardens differed by source-population, and a substantial proportion of this variation was explained by seed climate-of-origin. Plants from areas with the coldest winters had the highest levels of survival, while populations from warmer and drier sites had the lowest levels of survival. Survival was lowest, 36 percent, in the garden that was prone to the lowest minimum temperatures. These results suggest the importance of climate-driven genetic differences and their effect on survival. Understanding how landscape patterns and climate affect genetic variation in sagebrush can enhance restoration success.

Chaney, L., Richardson, B.A., Germino, M.J., 2016, Climate drives adaptive genetic responses associated with survival in big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata): Evolutionary Applications, v. 10, p. 313–322, https://doi.org/10.1111/eva.12440[Details]

Contact: Matthew Germino, FRESC, 208-426-3353, Profile

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