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Climate drives adaptive genetic responses associated with survival in big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata)

Posted date: March 10, 2017
Publication Year: 
Authors: Chaney, Lindsay; Richardson, Bryce A.; Germino, Matthew J.
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Evolutionary Applications. 10: 313-322.


A genecological approach was used to explore genetic variation for survival in Artemisia tridentata (big sagebrush). Artemisia tridentata is a widespread and foundational shrub species in western North America. This species has become extremely fragmented, to the detriment of dependent wildlife, and efforts to restore it are now a land management priority. Common-garden experiments were established at three sites with seedlings from 55 source-populations. Populations included each of the three predominant subspecies, and cytotype variations. Survival was monitored for 5 years to assess differences in survival between gardens and populations. We found evidence of adaptive genetic variation for survival. Survival within gardens differed by source-population and a substantial proportion of this variation was explained by seed climate of origin. Plants from areas with the coldest winters had the highest levels of survival, while populations from warmer and drier sites had the lowest levels of survival. Survival was lowest, 36%, in the garden that was prone to the lowest minimum temperatures. These results suggest the importance of climatic driven genetic differences and their effect on survival. Understanding how genetic variation is arrayed across the landscape, and its association with climate can greatly enhance the success of restoration and conservation.


Chaney, Lindsay; Richardson, Bryce A.; Germino, Matthew J. 2016. Climate drives adaptive genetic responses associated with survival in big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata). Evolutionary Applications. 10: 313-322.