Article: article from journal or magazin.
The role of population origin and microenvironment in seedling emergence and early survival in Mediterranean maritime pine (Pinus pinaster Aiton).
Understanding tree recruitment is needed to forecast future forest distribution. Many studies have reported the relevant ecological factors that affect recruitment success in trees, but the potential for genetic-based differences in recruitment has often been neglected. In this study, we established a semi-natural reciprocal sowing experiment to test for local adaptation and microenvironment effects (evaluated here by canopy cover) in the emergence and early survival of maritime pine (Pinus pinaster Aiton), an emblematic Mediterranean forest tree. A novel application of molecular markers was also developed to test for family selection and, thus, for potential genetic change over generations. Overall, we did not find evidence to support local adaptation at the recruitment stage in our semi-natural experiment. Moreover, only weak family selection (if any) was found, suggesting that in stressful environments with low survival, stochastic processes and among-year climate variability may drive recruitment. Nevertheless, our study revealed that, at early stages of recruitment, microenvironments may favor the population with the best adapted life strategy, irrespectively of its (local or non-local) origin. We also found that emergence time is a key factor for seedling survival in stressful Mediterranean environments. Our study highlights the complexity of the factors influencing the early stages of establishment of maritime pine and provides insights into possible management actions aimed at environmental change impact mitigation. In particular, we found that the high stochasticity of the recruitment process in stressful environments and the differences in population-specific adaptive strategies may difficult assisted migration schemes.
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