Seedlot Selection Tool

Website

http://sst.forestry.oregonstate.edu/

Purpose

The Seedlot Selection Tool (SST) was designed to help forest managers match seedlots (seed collections from a known origin) with appropriate planting sites based on climatic information. It can help users find seed sources for a planting site and to find planting sites for a specific seed source, under both current and future climates.

Output

A map that highlights the geographical areas that represent appropriate climatic matches for the selected seed source or planting site. The map reflects the users' chosen climate variables, transfer limits, and any other selected constraints.

Developed by

Glenn Howe, Oregon State University; Brad St. Clair, USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station; Ronald Beloin, Oregon State University. The tool is hosted at the College of Forestry at Oregon State University.

Format

Online, interactive tool.

Geography

Most of the conterminous U.S., divided into four large, geographic regions: Northwest, Midwest, Central and East; parts of southern Canada may also be included in the maps.

Scale (range)

A user can focus on a specific planting or seedlot site (latitude and longitude), but within the context of each of the four geographic regions. Currently, the scale of the climate data is approximately 800m (0.00833 degrees latitude/longitude).

Training Requirement

1 (scale of 1-3). Minimal time investment (<2 hours).

Status

The tool can be used as it is, however several updates are expected. New climate data will be added as they become available, and species-specific transfer functions are under development.

Potential Applications

Finding a seedlot for a planting site; finding a potential planting site for a seedlot; making planning decisions relevant to forest health, forest genetics, tree improvement, risk assessments, assisted migration; communicating the potential impacts of climate change on forests.

Caveats, Restrictions

The results of the SST are subject to many uncertainties, since they rely on model predictions of climate change, projections of these changes across the landscape, and assumptions of plant responses to climate. In addition, the tool is being actively updated and some selections may not yet be available.

Overview & Applicability

The Seedlot Selection Tool (SST) is a web-based decision-support tool designed to help forest managers match seedlots (seed collections from a known origin) with planting sites based on climatic information.

Populations of trees, such as those from native stands or seed orchards, are genetically different from one another, and are adapted to different climatic conditions. Therefore, forest managers must match the climatic adaptability of their seedlots to the climatic conditions of their planting sites. Typically, this has been done using geographically defined seed zones. However, current climate models can now be used to define zones based on climate, rather than geography.

The SST can be used to map current climates, or future climates based on selected climate change scenarios. It can help forest managers or planners match an appropriate planting site with an appropriate seedlot under both current and future climates and to calculate seed transfer distances based on climatic information. The tool allows the user to control many input parameters so the results can reflect the management practices, climate change assumptions, and risk tolerance of the user.

Tool output: Use SST to map potential seed sources for a planting site, while considering potential future climates. Orange areas indicate best suitability for the stated goal

History

Tool development began in 2008 as a collaborative effort between the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University and the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station. The first version was published in the Fall of 2009 for the Pacific Northwest. Subsequent versions have been published with new and updated climate data and models, additional traditional seed zones, expansion into three additional regions in the Midwest and East, user interface enhancements, and online help.

The tool authors are Glenn Howe, Oregon State University; Brad St. Clair, USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station; and Ronald Beloin, Oregon State University

Inputs and outputs

Inputs
The user makes several selections, including:

  1. General region of interest.
  2. Goal: either seeking seedlots for a planting site, or seeking adapted planting sites for a seed source.
  3. The location of the planting site or seedlot, within approximately 1km.
  4. Specifying how the climatic limiting factors for seedlot movements are determined. The options for 'transfer limits' which may be specified include: a) limits determined from existing seed or breeding zones, b) limits as defined by the user based on available knowledge or experience, and c) limits as determined by built-in functions based on genetic studies for species (not yet available).
  5. Choices of climatic limiting factors and associated transfer limit(s), depending on selections for 4.
  6. Consideration of future climates (yes or no), and, if yes, choice of climate model and emissions scenario.
  7. Constraints for non-climatic factors (species range, etc.).

Experienced users can overwrite some default values, or login and select a set of values that were saved in a previous session.

Outputs
A map that highlights the geographical areas that represent appropriate climatic matches for the selected seed source or planting site. The map reflects the users' chosen climate variables, transfer limits, and any other selected constraints. Each map is limited to the major region that was initially selected.

Restrictions and limitations

The SST is a decision support tool based on model predictions of climate change, projections of these changes across the landscape, and assumptions of plant responses to climate. The results must be interpreted with an understanding of the uncertainties involved.

This is a tool that is being actively updated. Certain selections are not available for some geographical regions. For example, the Northwest region is the only region with species-specific seed zones; thus, species-specific outputs are only available for this region. In addition, the option to choose a transfer limit as determined by a recommended model is not yet functional. Users may select their own climate- based transfer limits (for example, transfers of a given number of degrees of mean annual temperature), but they must rely on their own knowledge or experience to do so. Finally, climate models (GCMs) and emission scenarios that may be used to produce maps when considering climate change are limited to one or a few options for some regions.

Accessing the tool and additional information

More on the tool including detailed instructions are available on the web site: http://sst.forestry.oregonstate.edu

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