Forest Policy and Biodiversity Strategy: The Relevance of Forest Genetic Resources

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecophysiology and Biology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2019) | Viewed by 16210

Special Issue Editors

Head of Department for Forest Physiology and Genetics & the Research Programme P4-0107, LIFEGENMON Coordinator, Večna pot 2, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Interests: physiology and ecology of forest trees and their symbionts; the role of belowground diversity and turnover of fine roots and mycorrhizal mycelia in mycorrhizosphere processes and carbon dynamics; mycobioindication of stress in forest soils; conservation of forest genetic resources and certification of forest reproductive material
Institute of Lowland Forestry and Environment, University of Novi Sad, Novi Sad, Serbia
Interests: tree physiology; genetic diversity; climate change adaptation; conservation of forest genetic resources
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Department of Forest Ecology, Slovenian Forestry Institute, Večna Pot 2, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Interests: forest ecology; forest hydrology; microclimate; climate change; soil and water conservation; sustainability
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sustainable forest management is based on the long-term adaptability of forest ecosystems and starts at the lowest, namely the gene, level. Management and conservation of forest genetic resources is essential and needs to consider all processes which might affect their genetic variability, especially processes influencing the ability of a population to reproduce in heterogeneous environments. The primary concern is to maintain the adaptability of future generations of forest trees to the changing environmental conditions, which can be supported by active management supporting high genetic diversity, such as through adequate collection and use of forest reproductive material, active measures for increasing genetic diversity, and sustainable forest management through adequate silvicultural systems. Yet, sustainability of forests, including all measures for “genetic conservation of forests” proposed for long-term conservation of the adaptability potential, need to be assessed in time. Only if future forests will include populations of a high genetic diversity, the adaptability potential will be conserved and future landscapes might remain similar to their present situation, with forest stands growing and fulfilling ecosystem services in their present distribution areas.

Forest genetic monitoring (FGM) is therefore a crucial component of any sustainable forest management as it gives a possibility to detect potentially harmful changes of forest adaptability before they are seen on higher levels. The key questions to address are:

1. How to contribute to the identification of the national / regional / EU and global-wide genetic monitoring objectives and strategies, and how to address obstacles to meet the objectives for development and implementation of FGM.

2. How to contribute to the identification of communication systems with key stakeholders and policy makers regarding FGM.

3. How to contribute to the formation of a future action plan on the procedures needed to obtain a discussion line with policy makers on development and implementation of the system for FGM.

Possible topics are:

  • Nature dynamics is framed by genes, whereas human approach mostly by legislation
  • An overview of forest management and forest monitoring practices with a view towards a regional Forestry and a regional Forest biodiversity strategy
  • Adaptive forest management in the changing climates: Different countries adopted diverse strategies that best suit their particular management needs and interests concerning sustainable use of FGR
  • How to cope with large-scale disturbances, regeneration and survival of forests
  • From science to practice: FGM regions, demographic and genetic indicators and verifiers, ring tests and database organizaiton
  • How to mitigate the northwards moving rear edge of currently important tree species in southern and xeric borders of their distribution in Europe
  • The role of FGR in provision of forest ecosystem services
  • Scientific support to the question on what should an action plan on production and use of forest reproductive material (FRM) consider

Dr. Hojka Kraigher
Dr. Srdjan Stojnic
Dr. Urša Vilhar
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • climate change
  • genetic diversity
  • forest genetic monitoring
  • forest management
  • forest reproductive materal
  • marginal tree population
  • conservation of forest genetic resources
  • forest policy
  • hidden biodiversity

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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15 pages, 1437 KiB  
Article
Assessment of Genetic Diversity and Population Genetic Structure of Norway Spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karsten) at Its Southern Lineage in Europe. Implications for Conservation of Forest Genetic Resources
Forests 2019, 10(3), 258; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10030258 - 14 Mar 2019
Cited by 35 | Viewed by 3867
Abstract
In the present paper we studied the genetic diversity and genetic structure of five Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karsten) natural populations situated in Serbia, belonging to the southern lineage of the species at the southern margin of the species distribution range. [...] Read more.
In the present paper we studied the genetic diversity and genetic structure of five Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karsten) natural populations situated in Serbia, belonging to the southern lineage of the species at the southern margin of the species distribution range. Four populations occur as disjunct populations on the outskirts of the Dinaric Alps mountain chain, whereas one is located at the edge of Balkan Mountain range and, therefore, can be considered as ecologically marginal due to drier climatic conditions occurring in this region. Due to the negative effect of biotic and abiotic stress factors, the sustainability of these populations is endangered, making conservation of their genetic resources one of the key measures of Norway spruce persistence in Serbia under climatic changes. The insight on genetic diversity and genetic structure of the studied spruce populations can provide the information required for the initiation of programs aimed at the conservation and utilization of spruce genetic resources at the rear edge of species environmental limits. Norway spruce genetic variation and population genetic structure were estimated using eight EST-SSR markers. The results showed that mean expected heterozygosity was 0.616 and allelic richness 10.22. Genetic differentiation among populations was low (Fst = 0.007). No recent bottleneck effect or isolation by distance were detected. Bayesian clustering, obtained with STRUCTURE, grouped the populations into two genetic clusters, whereas UPGMA analysis distinguished three main groups approximately in line with the geographic area of occurrence. Based on the study results and the EUFORGEN Pan-European strategy for genetic conservation of forest trees, the establishment of additional dynamic gene conservation units must be considered in Serbia in order to protect the adaptive and neutral genetic diversity of the species. Full article
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17 pages, 1462 KiB  
Article
Population Genetic Diversity of Quercus ilex subsp. ballota (Desf.) Samp. Reveals Divergence in Recent and Evolutionary Migration Rates in the Spanish Dehesas
Forests 2018, 9(6), 337; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9060337 - 07 Jun 2018
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 3729
Abstract
The Spanish dehesas have been severely affected by human activities that date to the prehistoric period and have suffered accelerated decline since the 1980s. Holm oak (Quercus ilex subsp. ballota (Desf.) Samp.) is a key component of this system, and its acorns [...] Read more.
The Spanish dehesas have been severely affected by human activities that date to the prehistoric period and have suffered accelerated decline since the 1980s. Holm oak (Quercus ilex subsp. ballota (Desf.) Samp.) is a key component of this system, and its acorns provide an important food source for wildlife and domesticated livestock. Our earlier work showed structured variation in acorn morphology and biochemistry. Here, we used chloroplast and nuclear microsatellites to detect genetic structure among populations of Q. ilex from the major biogeographic regions of Andalusia. We found high levels of spatial differentiation with chloroplast DNA indicating little seed dispersal among populations. Spatial differentiation was weaker for nuclear DNA, presumably as a result of more widespread pollen dispersal and its larger effective population size. The Baetic Cordillera (Cádiz) population consistently appeared well separated from populations of the northern Sierra Morena, suggesting that the Guadalquivir Valley has played an important role in determining population divergence. This may be, in part, evolutionary, as suggested by chloroplast DNA, and, in part, a result of human-induced population isolation, as Q. ilex has been removed from the Guadalquivir Valley. Evolutionary gene flow rates were greater than contemporary rates, which were limited to unidirectional gene flow from Córdoba to other populations in the Sierra Morena and, surprisingly, to the southern population at Almería. The inconsistency between evolutionary and recent migration rates suggests an effect of anthropogenic activity over the last few generations of Q. ilex. Full article
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13 pages, 1056 KiB  
Article
Leaf Trait Variation with Environmental Factors at Different Spatial Scales: A Multilevel Analysis Across a Forest-Steppe Transition
Forests 2018, 9(3), 122; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9030122 - 06 Mar 2018
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3153
Abstract
In mountain areas, the distribution of plant communities is affected by both regional and microhabitat conditions. The degree to which these different spatial factors contribute to plant communities is not well understood, because few studies have used a uniform sampling methodology to measure [...] Read more.
In mountain areas, the distribution of plant communities is affected by both regional and microhabitat conditions. The degree to which these different spatial factors contribute to plant communities is not well understood, because few studies have used a uniform sampling methodology to measure trait variation across the range of ecological scales. In this study, a stratified sampling method was used to study community weighted leaf traits and environment factors at different spatial (transect and plot) scales. We measured 6 leaf traits (specific leaf area, leaf tissue density, leaf thickness, leaf carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus content) in 258 communities from 57 sites in 9 transects nested within 3 vegetation zones. These communities are located in the loess hilly and gully area of the Yanhe river watershed. We coupled climatic factors at the transect scale with topographic and edaphic factors at the plot scale using multilevel regression modeling to analyze the trait variation associated with spatial scales. At the transect scale, the mean annual rainfall showed a highly significant positive effect on the leaf nitrogen concentration (LNC) (p < 0.01), while it had a highly significant negative effect on leaf thickness (LT) and leaf tissue density (LTD) (p < 0.001) and a significant negative effect on leaf carbon concentration (LCC) (p < 0.05), explaining 10.91%, 36.08%, 57.25% and 66.01% of LTD, LT, LCC and LNC variation at transect scale respectively. At a plot scale, the slope aspect showed a highly significant positive effect on specific leaf area (SLA) and LNC but a highly significant negative effect on LT and LTD. The soil water content had a significant negative effect on LT (p < 0.05) and LTD (p < 0.001) while soil organic matter showed a positive effect on SLA (p < 0.001) and LNC (p < 0.01). Totally, plot scale variables explained 7.28%, 43.60%, 46.43%, 75.39% and 81.17% of LCC, LT, LNC, LTD and SLA variation. The elevation showed positive effect only on LCC (p < 0.05). The results confirmed the existence of consistent trait–environment relationships at both transect and plot scales. These trait–environment relationships at different spatial scales will provide mechanistic understanding on the vegetation community assembly in the study area. Practically, ignoring trait variation within transects will underestimate roles of microhabitat filters in community assembly, and leads to the homogenization of restoration species. This will be like the past restoration plans and programs, causing serious environmental problems such as dwarf trees and soil desiccation. Full article
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Review

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22 pages, 767 KiB  
Review
The Interplay between Forest Management Practices, Genetic Monitoring, and Other Long-Term Monitoring Systems
Forests 2018, 9(3), 133; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9030133 - 10 Mar 2018
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 4889
Abstract
The conservation and sustainable use of forests and forest genetic resources (FGR) is a challenging task for scientists and foresters. Forest management practices can affect diversity on various levels: genetic, species, and ecosystem. Understanding past natural disturbance dynamics and their level of dependence [...] Read more.
The conservation and sustainable use of forests and forest genetic resources (FGR) is a challenging task for scientists and foresters. Forest management practices can affect diversity on various levels: genetic, species, and ecosystem. Understanding past natural disturbance dynamics and their level of dependence on human disturbances and management practices is essential for the conservation and management of FGR, especially in the light of climate change. In this review, forest management practices and their impact on genetic composition are reviewed, synthesized, and interpreted in the light of existing national and international forest monitoring schemes and concepts from various European projects. There is a clear need and mandate for forest genetic monitoring (FGM), while the requirements thereof lack complementarity with existing forest monitoring. Due to certain obstacles (e.g., the lack of unified FGM implementation procedures across the countries, high implementation costs, large number of indicators and verifiers for FGM proposed in the past), merging FGM with existing forest monitoring is complicated. Nevertheless, FGM is of paramount importance for forestry and the natural environment in the future, regardless of the presence or existence of other monitoring systems, as it provides information no other monitoring system can yield. FGM can provide information related to adaptive and neutral genetic diversity changes over time, on a species and/or on a population basis and can serve as an early warning system for the detection of potentially harmful changes of forest adaptability. In addition, FGM offers knowledge on the adaptive potential of forests under the changing environment, which is important for the long-term conservation of FGR. Full article
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