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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Pullman, Washington » Plant Germplasm Introduction and Testing Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #293297

Title: Genecology for seed zones: Problems and solutions

item Johnson, Richard
item ST CLAIR, BRAD - Us Forest Service (FS)

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/7/2013
Publication Date: 4/2/2013
Citation: Johnson, R.C., and Brad St Clair. 2013 Genecology for seed zones: Problems and solutions. National Native Seed Conference Abstracts

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Seed zones are needed to guide the choice of genetic resources used in restoration. Their development using genecology is ongoing in numerous grass and forb species cooperative among the ARS, BLM, US Forest Service and the University of Nevada-Reno. The interaction of genetic variation and long-term seed source climate has been successfully described with regression models explaining from 40-60% of the variation, resulting in robust seed zones. Nevertheless, genecology presents certain challenges. These include the logistics of adequate germplasm collection, sites for common gardens, and measuring plants traits over garden sites and years. The mapping of regression models with source locations climates require developing contour intervals that can be subjective. Links between genetic variation and climate suggest that seed zones reflect natural selection and adaptation driven by climate. Yet genecology is not a direct assessment of adaptation and factors such as plasticity may interact in situ to affect restoration success. Still, the extensive germplasm collections needed for genecology provides the opportunity for genetic conservation in genebanks for future use. Common garden research provides a storehouse of useful evaluation data. Based in input from land managers, contour intervals can be adjusted to best represent the size and complexity needed for a given restoration project. And seed zone implementation ensures that genetic diversity needed for natural selection with climate change is enhanced compared to planting widely adapted cultivars. Although initially resource intensive, genecology provides numerous direct and collateral benefits, and appears to be the best available approach to seed zone development.