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Bryce A. Richardson

Bryce Richardson

Research Geneticist Plant

1221 South Main Street
Moscow, ID 83843-4211
Contact Bryce A. Richardson

Current Research

My current research focuses on molecular and quantitative genetics of shrub and tree species. This research includes understanding the evolutionary relationships, population genetic structure, and adaptive genetic variation. Current projects include the following species: big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima) and aspen (Populus tremuloides). This research employs various genetic techniques: common garden trials to measure adaptive variation in quantitative traits, next-generation sequencing to develop molecular markers and annotate genes, and genecology to develop association between traits and climate variables to infer seeds zones for current and future climates.

Research Interests

My research interests include population genomics, genecology, and phylogenetics of plants. I am particularly interested in using genetic approaches to address ecological interactions between plants and the environment. Knowledge from these studies can be used to inform seed transfer and assisted migration strategies. Richardson, Bryce A.; Meyer, Susan E. 2012. Paleoclimate effects and geographic barriers shape regional population genetic structure of blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima: Rosaceae). Botany. 90: 293-299. Richardson, Bryce A.; Page, Justin T.; Bajgain, Prabin; Sanderson, Stewart C.; Udall, Joshua A. 2012. Deep sequencing of amplicons reveals widespread intraspecific hybridization and multiple origins of polyploidy in big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata, Asteraceae). American Journal of Botany. 99(12): 1962-1975. Richardson, Bryce A.; Kitchen, Stanley G.; Pendleton, Rosemary L.; Pendleton, Burton K.; Germino, Matthew J.; Rehfeldt, Gerald E.; Meyer, Susan E. 2014. Adaptive responses reveal contemporary and future ecotypes in a desert shrub. Ecological Applications. 24(2): 413-427.

Past Research

Much of a species demographic and evolutionary history is recorded into the DNA and phenotypic traits. Genetic research has an extremely broad use for basic and applied research. Molecular genetic data provide the insight into evolutionary relationships between plant taxa and assess intraspecific genetic diversity and structure. These data are critical in identifying unique or at risk populations, understand barriers to gene flow, and evaluate past climate change on demographics and biogeography. Genetics data can also assess environmental adaptation. Common gardens trials measure genetic responses to climate. This data is used to develop of seed zones for plant species. Knowledge of where to collect and plant seeds is critical to restoration success, sustainability of ecosystems and efficient use of funding.

Why This Research is Important

Knowledge of how plants are adapted to their environments is fundamental to ecological restoration and mitigating impacts from climate change. This research has applications for the development of current and future seed transfer zones, ensuring seed banks capture the genetic diversity of a species and other tools that enable restoration of natural ecosystems.


  • College of Idaho, Caldwell, ID, B.A., Biology, 1996
  • University of Idaho, Moscow, ID, M.S., Forest Resources, 2001
  • Washington State University, Pullman, WA, Ph.D., Plant Pathology, 2006
  • Professional Experience

    Research Geneticist, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Forest Service, USDA
    2009 to present

    Biological Science Technician, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Forest Service, USDA
    1999 to 2009

    Teaching Assistant, College of Natural Resources, University of Idaho

    Professional Organizations

    • Society of Ecological Restoration, Member ( 2011 to present )
      Contribute to scientific exchange.
    • United Nations, Food And Agriculture Organization, North American Forestry Commission, Forest Genetic Resources Work Group Representative ( 2011 to present )
      The commission includes three research representatives from Canada, Mexico and the United States., The goal of the commission is to develop collaborative projects to address forest and plant genetic needs for restoration and conservation.


    Rocky Mountain Research Station, Best Scientific Publication, 2016
    Publication: Will phenotypic plasticity affecting flowering phenology keep pace with climate change
    Merit award, 2014
    Superior performance in fiscal year 2014 in conducting research and publishing valuable papers
    Merit award, 2012
    Superior performance in contributing to RMRS GSD program through productive output and effective teamwork.
    Rocky Mountain Research Station, Best Publication for Early Career Scientist, 2010
    Awarded for: Congruent climate-driven genecological responses from molecular markers and quantitative traits for western white pine (Pinus monticola). International Journal of Plant Sciences

    Featured Publications


    Melton, Anthony E.; Child, Andrew W.; Beard, Richard S. Jr.; Dumaguit, Carlos Dave C.; Forbey, Jennifer S.; Germino, Matthew; de Graaff, Marie-Anne; Kliskey, Andrew; Leitch, Ilia J.; Martinez, Peggy; Novak, Stephen J.; Pellicer, Jaume; Richardson, Bryce A.; Self, Desiree; Serpe, Marcelo; Buerki, Sven , 2022. A haploid pseudo-chromosome genome assembly for a keystone sagebrush species of western North American rangelands
    Richardson, Bryce A.; Massatti, Rob; Islam-Faridi, Nurul; Johnson, Skylar; Kilkenny, Francis F. , 2022. Assessing population genomic structure and polyploidy: A crucial step for native plant restoration
    Kim, Mee-Sook; Hantula, Jarkko; Kaitera, Juha; Zambino, Paul J.; Woodward, Stephen; Richardson, Bryce A.; Stewart, Jane E.; Spaine, Pauline; Shaw, David C.; Takeuchi, Yu; Klopfenstein, Ned B. , 2022. Recovery plan for Scots pine blister rust caused by Cronartium pini
    St.Clair, John Bradley; Richardson, Bryce A.; Stevenson‐Molnar, Nikolas; Howe, Glenn T.; Bower, Andrew D.; Erickson, Vicky J.; Ward, Brendan; Bachelet, Dominique; Kilkenny, Francis F.; Wang, Tongli , 2022. Seedlot Selection Tool and Climate‐Smart Restoration Tool: Web‐based tools for sourcing seed adapted to future climates
    Melton, Anthony E.; Beck, James; Galla, Stephanie J.; Jenkins, Jerry; Handley, Lori; Kim, Min; Grimwood, Jane; Schmutz, Jeremy; Richardson, Bryce A.; Serpe, Marcelo; Novak, Stephen; Bue, Sven , 2021. A draft genome provides hypotheses on drought tolerance in a keystone plant species in Western North America threatened by climate change
    McKelvey, Kevin S.; Block, William M.; Jain, Terrie B.; Luce, Charles H.; Page-Dumroese, Deborah S.; Richardson, Bryce A.; Saab, Victoria A.; Schoettle, Anna W.; Sieg, Carolyn H.; Williams, Daniel R. , 2021. Adapting research, management, and governance to confront socioecological uncertainties in novel ecosystems
    Chen, Zhongqi; Grossfurthner, Lukas; Loxterman, Janet L.; Masingale, Jonathan; Richardson, Bryce A.; Seaborn, Travis; Smith, Brandy; Waits, Lisette P.; Narum, Shawn R. , 2021. Applying genomics in assisted migration under climate change: Framework, empirical applications, and case studies
    Zaiats, Andrii; Germino, Matthew J.; Serpe, Marcelo D.; Richardson, Bryce A.; Caughlin, T. Trevor. , 2021. Intraspecific variation mediates density dependence in a genetically diverse plant species
    Massatti, Rob; Shriver, Robert K.; Winkler, Daniel E.; Richardson, Bryce A.; Bradford, John B. , 2020. Assessment of population genetics and climatic variability can refine climate-informed seed transfer guidelines
    Zaiats, Andrii; Lazarus, Brynne E.; Germino, Matthew J.; Serpe, Marcelo D.; Richardson, Bryce A.; Buerki, Sven; Caughlin, T. Trevor. , 2020. Intraspecific variation in surface water uptake in a perennial desert shrub
    Cooke, Brian; Richardson, Bryce A.; Kilkenny, Francis F.; St. Clair, Brad; Finch, Deborah M.; Prendeville, Holly , 2019. Getting climate-smart with seeds: How a new software tool helps prepare landscapes for expected future conditions
    Davidson, Bill E.; Germino, J. Matthew; Richardson, Bryce A.; Barnard, David M. , 2019. Landscape and organismal factors affecting sagebrush-seedling transplant survival after megafire restoration
    Massatti, Rob; Prendeville, Holly R.; Larson, Steve; Richardson, Bryce A.; Waldron, Blair; Kilkenny, Francis F. , 2018. Population history provides foundational knowledge for utilizing and developing native plant restoration materials
    Richardson, Bryce A.; Boyd, Alicia A.; Tobiasson, Tanner; Germino, Matthew J. , 2018. Spectrophotometry of Artemisia tridentata to quantitatively determine subspecies
    Forbey, Jennifer Sorensen; Patricelli, Gail L.; Delparte, Donna M.; Krakauer, Alan H.; Olsoy, Peter J.; Fremgen, Marcella R.; Nobler, Jordan D.; Spaete, Lucas P.; Shipley, Lisa A.; Rachlow, Janet L.; Dirksen, Amy K.; Perry, Anna; Richardson, Bryce A.; Glenn, Nancy F. , 2017. Emerging technology to measure habitat quality and behavior of grouse: Examples from studies of greater sage-grouse
    Su, Zhihao; Richardson, Bryce A.; Zhuo, Li; Jiang, Xiaolong; Li, Wenjun; Kang, Xiaoshan , 2017. Genetic diversity and structure of an endangered desert shrub and the implications for conservation
    Klopfenstein, Ned B.; Stewart, Jane E.; Ota, Yuko; Hanna, John W.; Richardson, Bryce A.; Ross-Davis, Amy; Elias-Roman, Ruben D.; Korhonen, Kari; Keca, Nenad; Iturritxa, Eugenia; Alvarado-Rosales, Dionicio; Solheim, Halvor; Brazee, Nicholas J.; Lakomy, Piotr; Cleary, Michelle R.; Hasegawa, Eri; Kikuchi, Taisei; Garza-Ocanas, Fortunato; Tsopelas, Panaghiotis; Rigling, Daniel; Prospero, Simone; Tsykun, Tetyana; Berube, Jean A.; Stefani, Franck O. P.; Jafarpour, Saeideh; Antonin, Vladimir; Tomsovsky, Michal; McDonald, Geral I.; Woodward, Stephen; Kim, Mee-Sook , 2017. Insights into the phylogeny of Northern Hemisphere Armillaria: Neighbor-net and Bayesian analyses of translation elongation factor 1-α gene sequences
    Finch, Deborah M.; Boyce, D. A.; Chambers, Jeanne C.; Colt, C. J.; Dumroese, Kasten; Kitchen, Stanley G.; McCarthy, C.; Meyer, Susan E.; Richardson, Bryce A.; Rowland, M. M.; Rumble, Mark A.; Schwartz, Michael K.; Tomosy, M. S.; Wisdom, M. J. , 2016. Conservation and restoration of sagebrush ecosystems and sage-grouse: An assessment of USDA Forest Service Science
    Forbey, Jennifer; Patricelli, Gail; Delparte, Donna; Krakauer, Alan; Olsoy, Peter; Fremgen, Marcella; Nobler, Jordan; Glenn, Nancy; Spaete, Lucas; Richardson, Bryce A.; Shipley, Lisa; Mitchell, Jessica. , 2016. Overview of a workshop to expand the use of emerging technology to understand the ecology of grouse in a changing climate
    Pendleton, Rosemary L.; Pendleton, Burton K.; Meyer, Susan E.; Richardson, Bryce A.; Esque, Todd; Kitchen, Stanley G. , 2015. Blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima Torr.): State of our knowledge and future challenges [Chapter 10]
    Dumroese, Kasten; Luna, Tara; Richardson, Bryce A.; Kilkenny, Francis F.; Runyon, Justin B. , 2015. Conserving and restoring habitat for Greater Sage-Grouse and other sagebrush-obligate wildlife: The crucial link of forbs and sagebrush diversity
    Richardson, Bryce A.; Ortiz, Hector G.; Carlson, Stephanie L.; Jaeger, Deidre M.; Shaw, Nancy L. , 2015. Genetic and environmental effects on seed weight in subspecies of big sagebrush: Applications for restoration
    Huynh, Mark D.; Page, Justin T.; Richardson, Bryce A.; Udall, Joshua A. , 2015. Insights into transcriptomes of Big and Low sagebrush
    Schilling, Martin P.; Wolf, Paul G.; Duffy, Aaron M.; Rai, Hardeep S.; Rowe, Carol A.; Richardson, Bryce A.; Mock, Karen E. , 2014. Genotyping-by-sequencing for Populus population genomics: An assessment of genome sampling patterns and filtering approaches
    McArthur, E. Durant; Richardson, Bryce A.; Kitchen, Stanley G. , 2013. Great Basin Experimental Range: Annotated bibliography
    Mock, Karen E.; Richardson, Bryce A.; Wolf, Paul G. , 2013. Molecular tools and aspen management: A primer and prospectus
    Hines, Sarah; Klopfenstein, Ned B.; Richardson, Bryce A.; Warwell, Marcus V.; Kim, Mee-Sook , 2013. Return of the king: Western white pine conservation and restoration in a changing climate
    Rai, Hardeep S.; Mock, Karen E.; Richardson, Bryce A.; Cronn, Richard C.; Hayden, Katherine J.; Wright, Jessica W.; Knaus, Brian J.; Wolf, Paul G. , 2013. Transcriptome characterization and detection of gene expression differences in aspen (Populus tremuloides)
    Ross-Davis, Amy; Stewart, J. E.; Hanna, John W.; Kim, M.-S.; Knaus, B. J.; Cronn, R.; Rai, H.; Richardson, Bryce A.; McDonald, G. I.; Klopfenstein, Ned B. , 2013. Transcriptome of an Armillaria root disease pathogen reveals candidate genes involved in host substrate utilization at the host-pathogen interface
    Miller, Sue; Meyer, Susan E.; Richardson, Bryce A.; Pendleton, Rosemary L.; Pendleton, Burton K.; Kitchen, Stanley G. , 2013. Upwardly mobile in the western U.S. desert: Blackbrush shrublands respond to a changing climate
    Ross-Davis, Amy L.; Stewart, Jane E.; Hanna, John W.; Kim, Mee-Sook; Cronn, Rich C.; Rai, Hardeep S.; Richardson, Bryce A.; McDonald, Geral I.; Klopfenstein, Ned B. , 2012. De novo assembly and transcriptome characterization of an Armillaria solidipes mycelial fan
    Richardson, Bryce A.; Shaw, Nancy L.; Pendleton, Rosemary L. , 2012. Plant vulnerabilities and genetic adaptation (Chapter 4)
    Klopfenstein, Ned B.; Kim, Mee-Sook; Hanna, John W.; Richardson, Bryce A.; Lundquist, John E. , 2011. Approaches to predicting potential impacts of climate change on forest disease: An example with Armillaria root disease
    Bower, Andrew D.; Richardson, Bryce A.; Hipkins, Valerie; Rochefort, Regina; Aubry, Carol , 2011. Comparison of genetic diversity and population structure of Pacific Coast whitebark pine across multiple markers
    Bajgain, Prabin; Richardson, Bryce A.; Price, Jared C.; Cronn, Richard C.; Udall, Joshua A. , 2011. Transcriptome characterization and polymorphism detection between subspecies of big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata)
    Richardson, Bryce A.; Ekramoddoulah, A. K. M.; Liu, J.-J.; Kim, M.-S.; Klopfenstein, Ned B. , 2010. Current and future molecular approaches to investigate the white pine blister rust pathosystem
    Richardson, Bryce A.; Warwell, Marcus V.; Kim, Mee-Sook; Klopfenstein, Ned B.; McDonald, Geral I. , 2010. Integration of population genetic structure and plant response to climate change: sustaining genetic resources through evaluation of projected threats
    Klopfenstein, Ned B.; Juzwik, Jennifer; Ostry, Michael E.; Kim, Mee-Sook; Zambino, Paul J.; Venette, Robert C.; Richardson, Bryce A.; Lundquist, John E.; Lodge, D. Jean; Glaeser, Jessie A.; Frankel, Susan J.; Otrosina, William J.; Spaine, Pauline; Geils, Brian W. , 2010. Invasive forest pathogens: Summary of issues, critical needs, and future goals for Forest Service Research and Development
    Saenz-Romero, Cuauhtemoc; Rehfeldt, Gerald E.; Crookston, Nicholas L.; Duval, Pierre; St-Amant, Remi; Beaulieu, Jean; Richardson, Bryce A. , 2010. Spline models of contemporary, 2030, 2060, and 2090 climates for Mexico and their use in understanding climate-change impacts on the vegetation
    Klopfenstein, Ned B.; Kim, Mee-Sook; Hanna, John W.; Richardson, Bryce A.; Lundquist, John E. , 2009. Approaches to predicting potential impacts of climate change on forest disease: an example with Armillaria root disease
    Geils, Brian W.; Klopfenstein, Ned B.; Kim, Mee-Sook; Spaine, Pauline; Richardson, Bryce A.; Zambino, Paul J.; Shaw, Charles G.; Walla, James; Bulluck, Russ; Redmond, Laura; Smith, Kent. , 2009. Recovery plan for Scots pine blister rust caused by Cronartium flaccidum (Alb. & Schwein.) G. Winter and Peridermium pini (Pers.) Lév. [syn. C. asclepiadeum (Willd.) Fr., Endocronartium pini (Pers.) Y. Hiratsuka]
    Richardson, Bryce A.; Kim, Mee-Sook; Klopfenstein, Ned B.; Ota, Yuko; Woo, Kwan Soo; Hamelin, Richard C. , 2009. Tracking the footsteps of an invasive plant pathogen: Intercontinental phylogeographic structure of the white-pine-blister-rust fungus, Cronartium ribicola
    Richardson, Bryce A.; Klopfenstein, Ned B.; Zambino, P. J.; McDonald, G. I.; Geils, B. W.; Carris, L. M. , 2008. Influence of host resistance on the genetic structure of the white pine blister rust fungus in the western United States
    Kim, Mee-Sook; Richardson, Bryce A.; Klopfenstein, Ned B. , 2008. Western forest diseases and climate relations: Root diseases and climate change
    Zambino, Paul J.; Richardson, Bryce A.; McDonald, Geral I.; Klopfenstein, Ned B.; Kim, Mee-Sook. , 2007. A paradigm shift for white pine blister rust: Non-Ribes alternate hosts for Cronartium ribicola in North America
    Richardson, Bryce A.; Zambino, Paul J.; Klopfenstein, Ned B.; McDonald, Geral I.; Carris, Lori M. , 2007. Assessing host specialization among aecial and telial hosts of the white pine blister rust fungus, Cronartium ribicola
    Zambino, P. J.; Richardson, Bryce A.; McDonald, G. I. , 2007. First report of the white pine blister rust fungus, Cronartium ribicola, on Pedicularis bracteosa
    Zambino, Paul J.; Richardson, Bryce A.; McDonald, Geral I.; Klopfenstein, Ned B.; Kim, Mee-Sook. , 2006. Non-Ribes alternate hosts of white pine blister rust: What this discovery means to whitebark pine
    McDonald, Geral I.; Richardson, Bryce A.; Zambino, Paul J.; Klopfenstein, Ned B.; Kim, Mee-Sook , 2006. Pedicularis and Castilleja are natural hosts of Cronartium ribicola in North America: A first report
    Richardson, Bryce A.; Klopfenstein, Ned B.; Peever, Tobin L. , 2005. Assessing forest-pathogen interactions at the population level [Chapter 3]
    Richardson, Bryce A.; Klopfenstein, Ned B.; Brunsfeld, Steven J. , 2002. Assessing Clark's nutcracker seed-caching flights using maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA of whitebark pine
    Map of seed transfer limits are shown in the yellow to red gradient fill for a Wyoming big sagebrush restoration site (blue marker). The gradient fill indicates climate similarity to the restoration site with red being the highest.
    The Seedlot Selection Tool and Climate-Smart Restoration Tool are publicly accessible web-based tools designed to match seed sources with reforestation and restoration planting sites, using user input locations and tolerance thresholds and built-in climate and genetic data. These tools fill a need for dynamic and accessible mapping tools for selecting seed sources that will be resilient to future climate change.​
    Aspen fleabane in bloom - purple flowers with yellow centers.
    Diverse native forb communities are indicators of healthy ecosystems. Given the increasing frequency of disturbance and climate change perturbation affecting the establishment of native plant communities, restoration of native forbs is often required. RMRS staff and partners are focused on uncovering the genetic, evolutionary, and ecological underpinning of these understudied species to promote the appropriate application of native forbs in restoration.
    Students examining sagebrush with a large mountain range in the background.
    Adaptive traits can be dramatically altered by genome duplication. A common garden study of big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) shows that genome duplication (polyploidy) can affect below and above ground traits that have far reaching effects on reproduction, water uptake and interaction with neighbors.
    Healthy sagebrush common garden at Great Basin Experimental Range.
    Two common gardens were established for big sagebrush and blackbrush at the Great Basin and Desert Experimental Ranges in Utah, respectively. The experimental areas are ideal for studies in which plants representing multiple populations of a single species are grown together in common environments. These types of studies provide a useful approach for understanding species limits.  
    Collecting sagebrush volatiles (odors) in a common garden near Ephraim, Utah.
    Big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) is the dominant plant species across much of the Western U.S. and provide critical habitat and food for many endemic species, including the threatened greater sage-grouse. Sagebrush habitat is imperiled due to disturbances and increased wildfire frequency due to exotic annual grasses. Identification of big sagebrush subspecies is difficult, but critical for successful restoration. Researchers discover that volatiles emitted by sagebrush species and subspecies differ in consistent ways and can be used to accurately identify plants.
    Image of Sagebrush Community
    Wildfire, invasive weeds, and climate change are threatening sagebrush ecosystems including the flora and fauna that are dependent upon them. Both Forest Service and BLM policies dictate that successful restoration requires putting the right seed in the right place. However, for many desert species little or no information is available to address these policies, including big sagebrush.
    Great Basin Native Plant Project Logo
    The Great Basin Native Plant Project seeks to increase the availability of genetically appropriate native plant materials and to provide the knowledge and technology required for their use in restoring diverse native plant communities across the Great Basin. This multi-state, collaborative research project was initiated in 2001 by the Plant Conservation Program of the BLM and the Grassland, Shrubland, and Desert Ecosystem Research Program of the Rocky Mountain Research Station.
    Winter mortality of big sagebrush not adapted to colder areas of the species distribution (photo by Bryce Richardson, RMRS)
    Sagebrush communities are the cornerstones of arid ecosystems in the West, mitigating soil erosion, fostering plant and animal biodiversity, storing carbon, and providing cover and forage for wildlife, such as the greater sage-grouse. However, these ecosystems are being compromised by increased fire frequency and climate change, coupled with encroachment of invasive plants. This research focuses on ecological genetics of big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata). Conserving and restoring big sagebrush is critical for the recovery of sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) and other sagebrush-dependent wildlife species.
    The distribution of plant species and populations will likely be reshaped as climate changes. Understanding these changes is complex and requires the integration of multiple research disciplines including genetics, climate modeling and biogeography. This research focuses on blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima), a widespread shrub that straddles the ecotone, transition area between two plant communities, from the Great Basin and Mojave Desert ecosystems.
    Forbs are an integral component of terrestrial ecosystems and critical to pollinator health. However, we know very little about the biology of native forbs. Such knowledge is a prerequisite to developing restoration programs that use diverse forb species in restoration seeding.
    Plant performance for many populations of focal native forb species is being tested in experimental gardens across the Great Basin in order to improve how seeds are sourced for restoring native plant communities.
    The climate niche for Wyoming big sagebrush was model for contemporary and 2050 climate. Climate change is predicted to have a negative impact on this subspecies with a 39% reduction in climate niche space between now and 2050.