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Tree Resilience

Researchers have uncovered genetic markers associated with traits that may make trees more resilient to the effects of a changing climate, BBC News reports.

Victoria Sork, a plant evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and her colleagues have found that there is already a mismatch between ecosystems and their foundational species. They report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that the valley oak, Quercus lobata, has already become maladapted to the temperatures now experienced in an ecosystem where it is a foundational species.

"Trees, which are long lived, and climate change — which is happening quickly — could be out of sync with each other," Sork tells the BBC. "The question is that if they are out of sync with each other, how can we manage tree populations so that they can better cope with increased temperatures?"

She and her colleagues turned to genomic data to uncover genotypes among oak trees that might enable them to grow faster under increased temperature conditions. Selecting seeds based on this could then potentially lessen the effects of climate change on ecosystems, they say in their paper.