Climate adaptation and ecological restoration in eucalypts
Prober, SM and Potts, BM and Bailey, G and Byrne, M and Dillon, S and Harrison, PA and Hoffmann, AA and Jordan, R and McLean, EH and Steane, DA and Stock, WD and Vaillancourt, RE, Climate adaptation and ecological restoration in eucalypts, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria, 128, (1) pp. 40-53. ISSN 0035-9211 (2016) [Refereed Article]
Eucalypts are the cornerstone of ecological restoration efforts across the highly modified agricultural landscapes of southern Australia. ‘Local provenancing’ is the established strategy for sourcing germplasm for ecological restoration plantings, yet this approach gives little consideration to the persistence of these plantings under future climates. This paper provides a synopsis of recent and ongoing research that the authors are undertaking on climate adaptation in eucalypts, combining new genomic approaches with ecophysiological evidence from provenance trials. These studies explore how adaptive diversity is distributed within and among populations, whether populations are buffered against change through capacity for phenotypic plasticity, and how this informs provenancing strategies. Results to date suggest that eucalypts have some capacity to respond to future environmental instability through adaptive phenotypic plasticity or selection of putatively adaptive alleles. Despite this, growing evidence suggests that eucalypts will still be vulnerable to change. Provenancing strategies that exploit adaptations found in non-local provenances could thus confer greater climate-resilience in ecological restoration plantings, although they will also need to account for potential interactions between climate adaptations and other factors (e.g. cryptic evolutionary variation, non-climate-related adaptations, herbivory and elevated CO2).