USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station
Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
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Evaluation of Montane Forest Genetic Resources: Implications for Conservation, Management, and Restoration of Whitebark Pine (Pinus albicaulis) in the Lake Tahoe Basin

Proposal [pdf]

Lead Researchers:

Detlev Vogler and Annette Delfino-Mix, USDA FS Pacific Southwest Research Station; Patricia Maloney, Department of Plant Pathology & Tahoe Environmental Research Center, UC Davis; David Neale, Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis


Links with ecosystem health, resource conservation (vegetation, soil, water), and biological diversity are central to the health of Lake Tahoe. Forest tree species are primary terrestrial ecosystem components and conservation of their genetic resources warrants special attention. The white pine species (sugar pine, western white pine, and whitebark pine) are key components in low to upland forests and watersheds in the LTBMU. Evaluation of adaptive genetic diversity of forest resources in the Lake Tahoe Basin will allow us to detect the sensitivity, resiliency, and potential vulnerability of populations of white pines to an introduced and invasive pathogen, Cronartium ribicola (causal agent of white pine blister rust, WPBR), climatic warming, and climate-driven outbreaks of native insects. Identifying patterns of adaptive variation at the landscape-level will constitute a valuable tool to design conservation, restoration, and forest health monitoring strategies for these forest tree species. We are taking an ecological and genetic approach to better understand the interaction of landscape characteristics (geology, climatic gradients, soil properties, physiognomy) and evolutionary processes (gene flow, selection) on ecologically important plant traits (disease resistance, water use efficiency/drought adaptation, phenology, and growth). This approach will allow us to determine the adaptive genetic variation and potential, as well as to develop effective restoration and silvicultural strategies with local, diverse, and rust-resistant planting stock.

Relation to Other SNPLMA Projects

This study builds upon the SNPLMA Round 7 science project, "Natural and anthropogenic threats to white pines from lower montane forests to subalpine woodlands of the Lake Tahoe basin: an ecological and genetic assessment for conservation, monitoring, and management", which has served to collect cones and plant seeds of all three white pine species.  Additionally, it parallels the SNPLMA Round 9 science project, "Evaluation of montane forest genetic resources in the Lake Tahoe basin: Implications for conservation, management, and adaptive responses of Pinus monticola to environmental change", which is conducting equivalent studies of western white pine.

Expected date of final products:

October 2014

Last Modified: Aug 29, 2016 09:48:46 AM