The 1912 Douglas-Fir Heredity Study is one of the first studies undertaken by the US Forest Service, and one of the first forest genetics studies in North America. The study considers provenance variation of 120 parent trees from 13 seed sources planted at five test sites in the Pacific Northwest. The unique, long-term nature of the study makes it valuable to revisit and consider its biological and historical significance. This analysis considers how far climatically Douglas-fir populations may be moved without incurring unacceptable declines in growth and survival. Results indicate that Douglas-fir seed sources may be moved at least 2° C cooler or warmer and still retain good long-term survival and productivity. However, projected future climate change beyond 2° C may lead to lower survival and roductivity. One option to address these concerns is assisted migration; however, if seed sources are moved beyond 2–3° C to a cooler climate in anticipation of warming, or from a more continental to a maritime climate, we are likely to see increased mortality and associated losses in productivity in the near-term. Lessons from this study include: (1) pay attention to good experimental design; we were able to overcome limitations from the design by using new statistical approaches; (2) maladaptation may take time to develop; poorer survival was not evident until more than two decades after planting; and (3) long-term studies may have value for addressing new, unforeseen issues in the future.
St. Clair, J Bradley; Howe, Glenn T; Kling, Jennifer G. 2019. The 1912 Douglas-Fir heredity study: Long-term effects of climatic transfer distance on growth and survival. Journal of Forestry. 118(1): 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1093/jofore/fvz064.