Spatial Distribution of Tree Genetic Adaptations

Full Title

Spatial Distribution of Tree Genetic Adaptations to Climate Now and in the Future

Project Overview

Local adaptations driven by genetic selection over time make it possible for tree species to inhabit broad climate envelopes. In our rapidly changing climate, however, the slow process of natural selection and gene flow may not keep pace and therefore create a mismatch between the near-future climate and local adaptations in the population today.

The goal of this project is to map genetic adaptations to climate in the genomes of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and Fremont Cottonwood (Populus fremontii), map the spatial range of these local adaptations, and model the ability of these adaptations to move through the population over time in a changing climate.

Researchers are using gene chip technologies and genomics to map these traits and landscape genetic approaches to understand how they move through a population over time. A key data gap in linking climate to genetic variation is the lack of fine-resolution, topographically corrected climate models for the western US. An important early aim of this project is to use climate data collected from sensors deployed across the western US to downscale existing climate models to a finer resolution that accounts for topological phenomena such as cold-air pooling. Ultimately, the understanding of genetic adaptations and gene flow provided by this project will be used to guide management and conservation of these tree species in a changing climate, and the fine-scale climate models will be used by other researchers studying species-climate relationships in the mountainous regions of the western U.S.

Key Personnel

* Indicates CIG Personnel or CIG Affiliate(s)

  • Andrew Shirk, University of Washington*
  • Samuel Cushman, U.S. Forest Service
  • Glenn Howe, Oregon State University

Key Collaborators

U.S. Forest Service; Oregon State University


U.S. Forest Service; National Science Foundation

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