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Understanding the evolution of native pinewoods in Scotland will benefit their future management and conservation

By Matti J. Salmela, Stephen Cavers, Witold Wachowiak, Joan E. Cottrell, Glenn R. Iason and Richard A. Ennos

Abstract

Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) is a foundation species in Scottish highland forests and a national icon. Due to heavy exploitation, the current native pinewood coverage represents a small fraction of the postglacial maximum. To reverse this decline, various schemes have been initiated to promote planting of new and expansion of old pinewoods. This includes the designation of seed zones for control of the remaining genetic resources. The zoning was based mainly on biochemical similarity among pinewoods but, by definition, neutral molecular markers do not reflect local phenotypic adaptation. Environmental variation within Scotland is substantial and it is not yet clear to what extent this has shaped patterns of adaptive differentiation among Scottish populations. Systematic, rangewide common-environment trials can provide insights into the evolution of the native pinewoods, indicating how environment has influenced phenotypic variation and how variation is maintained. Careful design of such experiments can also provide data on the history and connectivity among populations, by molecular marker analysis. Together, phenotypic and molecular datasets from such trials can provide a robust basis for refining seed transfer guidelines for Scots pine in Scotland and should form the scientific basis for conservation action on this nationally important habitat

Topics: Ecology and Environment
Publisher: Oxford
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1093/forestry
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:11426

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