Canadian Forest Service Publications

The role of forest genetic resources in responding to biotic and abiotic factors in the context of anthropogenic climate change. 2014. Alfaro, R.I., Fady, B., Vendramin, G.G., Dawson, I.K., Fleming, R.A., Såenz-Romero, C., Lindig-Cisneros, R.A., Murdock, T., Vinceti, B., Navarro, C.M., Skrøppa, T., Baldinelli, G., El-Kassaby, Y.A., Loo, J.Forest Ecology and Management 333 (2014)76-87

Year: 2014

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 35880

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2014.04.006

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The current distribution of forest genetic resources on Earth is the result of a combination of natural processes and human actions. Over time, tree populations have become adapted to their habitats including the local ecological disturbances they face. As the planet enters a phase of human-induced climate change of unprecedented speed and magnitude, however, previously locally-adapted populations are rendered less suitable for new conditions, and 'natural' biotic and abiotic disturbances are taken outside their historic distribution, frequencyand intensity ranges. Tree populations rely on phenotypic plasticity to survive in extant locations, on genetic adaptation to modify their local phenotypic optimum or on migration to new suitable environmental conditions. The rate of required change, however, may outpace the ability to respond, and tree species and populations may become locally extinct after specific, but as yet unknown and unquantified, tipping points are reached. Here, we review the importance of forest genetic resources as a source of evolutionary potential for adaptation to changes in climate and other eco logical factors. We particularly consider climate-related responses in the context of linkages to distur bances such as pests, diseases and fire, and associated feedback loops. The importance of management strategies to conserve evolutionary potential is emphasised and recommendations for policy-makers are provided.