Wymore AS, Bothwell HM, Compson ZG, Lamit LJ, Walker FM, Woolbright S, Whitham TG. 2014 - Community genetics applications for forest biodiversity and policy: planning for the future

Wymore AS, Bothwell HM, Compson ZG, Lamit LJ, Walker FM, Woolbright S, Whitham TG. 2014. Community genetics applications for forest biodiversity and policy: planning for the future. In Fenning T, editor. Challenges and opportunities for the world's forests in the 21st century. London (UK): Springer. p. 707–725.

ABSTRACT
In many ecosystems, the genetic variation within foundation tree species drive key ecological processes. Here we present four key findings from community genetics research that can be applied to the preservation of forest biodiversity and improvement of management policy. (1) Different tree genotypes support different communities and different ecosystem processes; (2) primary productivity is, in part, genetically-based and is linked to biodiversity; (3) with changing climate, gene by environment interactions will affect forests and their dependent communities; and (4) minimum viable interacting population theory and analyses of species interaction networks provide a framework for integrating genetics into each of the above topics. Inclusion of community genetics in forest management is important because species evolve, exist, and interact within the context of a community. This approach allows for the creation of policies that are less susceptible to pitfalls inherit to single species management. Specific policy suggestions include the incorporation of a community genetics perspective in federally-funded reforestation and restoration projects, the use of non-local genotypes where climate change is predicted, and the development of provenance trials in a community context to identify superior genotypes and mixes of genotypes that will perform best in a changing environment. Such amendments to policy would unite the efforts of research, production, and conservation to maximize tax-payer investment.