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How environment and gene flow shape adaptation in Scots pine

Carried out by: Dr Alistair Jump (University of Stirling) with Dr Stephen Cavers (CEH Edinburgh), Dr Richard Ennos (University of Edinburgh) and Dr Joan Cottrell (Forest Research)

Summary Description:

Recent trials at CEH show local adaptation in bud burst and cold tolerance in native Scots pine populations along an environmental gradient from East to West Scotland.  However the vast majority of observed variation lies within populations. This project aims to determine how large- and fine-scale forces interact to maintain high-within population diversity and what the implications of geneflow from plantations are for native pinewoods. The project will use existing data and simulations to assess historical migration scenarios and the development of patterns of neutral and adaptive genetic structure. These data will be complemented by fine-scale analysis of genetic structure in selected native pinewoods.

Timescale: 2013-2016

SFT Funds Awarded: £21,000

Project Outcomes:

This three-year PhD project is centred upon three specific objectives, which will be met by employing the methods outlined further below.

1. To assess the development of genetic structure in a migrating population.
2. To determine the drivers of high within-population genetic diversity.
3. To quantify the extent of gene flow into native pinewoods from non-local planted trees.

This project will use existing data and landscape models to assess historical migration scenarios and the development of patterns of neutral and adaptive genetic structure. This will be complemented by fine-scale analysis of selected native pinewoods to test hypotheses on the maintenance of high within-population diversity and to explore the consequences of human landscape modification for genetic diversity. Published genetic and palaeoecological data will be integrated with functional diversity and trait data held by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH Edinburgh), Forest Research and the University of Edinburgh.

SFT/FC Joint Bursary Award Scheme:. This project has received funding from the SFT/FC Joint Bursary Award.

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Scottish Forestry Trust is a registered charity (Scottish Charity No. SC008465).