Non-random gene flow caused by local adaptation in flowering time: implications for assisted gene flow as a conservation measure under climate change

As the climate changes, plants from our northern latitudes will be under selective pressures to adapt to warmer, longer growing seasons. However, the climate may likely change faster than these local populations can evolve, putting valued species at risk. Some have proposed to translocate southern individuals of threatened species northward. These transplants would have genes for dealing with high temperature, which they could then pass into the northern population by cross-pollination. Conservation biologists have called this “Assisted Gene Flow”. But it might be trickier than it seems. Typically, spring-flowering northern plants are genetically programmed to bloom at a later date than their southern counterparts. For Summer/Autumn blooming species, the northern plants typically flower earlier than southern. Either way, the different blooming times for the residents and transplants will hinder cross-pollination. This project will decrease/increase the gap between ‘resident’ and ‘transplant’ blooming dates to determine its affect on cross-pollination rates.

Principal Investigator: Arthur E. Weis

Comments are closed.