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ARS Home » Plains Area » Sidney, Montana » Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory » Pest Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #327318

Research Project: Reducing the Impact of Invasive Weeds in Northern Great Plains Rangelands through Biological Control and Community Restoration

Location: Pest Management Research

Title: Can local adaptation research in plants inform selection of native plant materials? An analysis of experimental methodologies

Author
item Gibson, Alexis - University Of Montana
item Espeland, Erin
item Wagner, Viktoria - Masaryk University
item Nelson, Cara - University Of Montana

Submitted to: Evolutionary Applications
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/27/2016
Publication Date: 3/20/2016
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/5852202
Citation: Gibson, A.L., Espeland, E.K., Wagner, V., Nelson, C.R. 2016. Can local adaptation research in plants inform selection of native plant materials? An analysis of experimental methodologies. Evolutionary Applications. 9(10):1219-1228. doi:10.1111/eva.12379.

Interpretive Summary: We presume that local adaptation is common in plants and often prefer locally-collected materials for revegetation projects. Although many researchers have observed local adaptation, it is unclear that their results can be appropriately applied to management. We reviewed studies of local adaptation with an eye towards factors that have the greatest effect on successful revegetation. We found that less than half of experiments used reciprocal transplants or natural field conditions: more than half were conducted in greenhouses and growth chambers. Persistence was rarely measured: most studies ran for less than a year. Emergence and establishment limit successful revegetation and restoration, but the majority of studies measured later life history stages (66%). Therefore, the body of local adaptation research should only be cautiously applied to management; future research could use alternative methodologies to allow managers to directly apply findings.

Technical Abstract: Local adaptation research in plants: limitations to synthetic understanding Local adaptation is used as a criterion to select plant materials that will display high fitness in new environments. A large body of research has explored local adaptation in plants, however, to what extent findings can inform management decisions has not been formally evaluated. We assessed local adaptation literature for six key experimental methodologies that have the greatest effect on the application of research to selecting plant materials for natural resource management: experimental environment, response variables, maternal effects, intraspecific variation, selective agents, and spatial and temporal variability. We found that less than half of experiments used reciprocal transplants or natural field conditions, which are both informative for revegetation and restoration. Population growth rate was rarely (5%) assessed, and most studies measured only single generations (96%) and ran for less than a year. Emergence and establishment are limiting factors in successful revegetation and restoration, but the majority of studies measured later life history stages (66%). Additionally, most studies included limited replication at the populations and habitat level, and tested response to single abiotic selective factors (66%). Local adaptation research should be cautiously applied to management; future research could use alternative methodologies to allow managers to directly apply findings.