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Monitoring and managing genetic diversity in Sitka spruce

Carried out by: Forest Research/Edinburgh University

Summary Description:
Tree improvement programmes need to retain genetic diversity to ensure gains can be made in future generations and provide resilience to climatic and biotic challenges. This study will quantify baseline levels and changes in genetic diversity during the course of the UK’s Sitka spruce genetic improvement programme. Using molecular markers we will compare quantitative measures of genetic diversity in native Queen Charlotte Island populations with unimproved commercial stands of Sitka spruce in the UK to estimate any reduction in genetic diversity that has occurred during the introduction process. We will then measure whether this level of genetic diversity has change during the generation of improved stock from either seed orchards or via vegetative propagation of selected families. The study will provide critical information needed to guide the future development of the highly successful genetic improvement programme for Sitka spruce, the UK’s most important timber species.

Timescale: 2018-2021

SFT Funds Awarded: £28,183

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