Long distance relationships: how far is too far (for trees)?
Susannah is a PhD Student in the University of British Columbia’s Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences. While an undergraduate at Northern Arizona University, Susannah studied how rising carbon dioxide levels might be helping scrappy desert pinon pine survive dry conditions, even as higher carbon dioxide is implicated in recent droughts in the southwestern US. Now, as part of the AdapTree project, she is excited about understanding if the trees of British Columbia and Alberta can adapt to climate change.
Trees in different locations are often adapted to the local climate, but, as climate changes, many tree populations will become maladapted. Pollen can travel long distances, bringing potentially useful alleles to trees in faraway populations. For this to happen, the timing for cone-making in receptive populations must match the timing for pollen arrival. Using climate data and information on the timing and genetics of reproduction in lodgepole pine and interior spruce, she is modeling just how far alleles can travel. That is, how far is too far for a long distance tree relationship?