Provenance variation in early survival, growth, and carbon isotope discrimination of southwestern ponderosa pine growing in three common gardens across an elevational gradient

Aalap Dixit, Thomas Kolb, Owen Burney, Karen Mock, Kevin Grady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We investigated early survival, growth, and carbon isotope discrimination of ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Lawson & C. Lawson var. scopulorum Engelm.) seedlings from different provenances using common gardens across an elevational gradient in order to examine the potential for adaptation to extreme environments and constraints to artificial regeneration. Twenty-one provenances from a range of elevations across Arizona and New Mexico were planted in three common gardens: a high-elevation meadow in aspen-mixed conifer forest, a mid-elevation ponderosa pine forest, and a low-elevation pinyon juniper woodland. Two years after planting in 2018, survival was highest at the mid-elevation site (54%), low at the high-elevation site (1.5%), and 0% at the low-elevation site. At the hot and dry low-elevation site, provenances from low-elevations survived longer than provenances from mid-and high-elevations, which suggests greater drought tolerance of low-elevation provenances. Mortality agents changed from abiotic (drought) to biotic (herbivory) with an increase in elevation across sites. High mortality of seedlings planted at high-elevation sites from biotic agents, such as rodents, may challenge efforts to establish ponderosa pine in assisted migration projects. Seedlings had significantly higher growth rate and carbon isotope discrimination (∆13 C) at the mid-elevation site than the high-elevation site. Provenances differed significantly in diameter, and ∆13 C, but not in height growth rate for the first year after planting. Provenance variation in ∆13 C suggests genetic variation in water use efficiency that may be useful for future evaluation of southwestern ponderosa pine seed sources for reforestation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1561
JournalForests
Volume12
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2021

Keywords

  • Assisted migration
  • Carbon isotope discrimination
  • Climate change
  • Common garden
  • Pinus ponderosa
  • Provenance
  • Reforestation
  • Survival
  • Tree planting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry

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