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Abstract Detail

Conservation Biology

Volk, Kate [1], Ahlering, Marissa [2], Hamilton, Jill [3].

Physiological trait response to changing water availability for a prairie forb sourced from different soil types and its implications to seed transfer in restoration.

Fine-scale environmental heterogeneity can contribute to the evolution of trait differences important to plant fitness. However, depending on the scale and extent of adaptation, the evolution of trait differences could impact the success of seeds transferred across environments. This is particularly of concern in restoration, where the interaction between the soil environment and shifting water availability may impact seeding success. While genetic differences may have evolved among populations, phenotypic plasticity may provide a mechanism to buffer changes in the environment, ensuring persistence across varying environments. Given this understanding, teasing apart the genetic and environmental contributions to trait variation across varying abiotic and biotic environments will be necessary to designing and implementing seed transfer recommendations for restoration. In this study, we used the perennial grassland forb, Geum triflorum, to quantify the contribution of genetic (g), environment (e), and gxe interactions to physiological trait differences important to plant fitness under varying water availability. Physiological traits were observed as they balance the trade-offs between carbon uptake during water loss as a means to maximize growth while minimizing risk of mortality. Populations of G. triflorum were collected from distinct soil environments, three from sand dominated soils and three from loam soils. Seeds were planted and grown under both well-watered and water-limited conditions. Due to contrasting water holding capacities, we predicted sand originating populations would exhibit greater physiological control over water use under water-limited conditions, but that loam populations would balance water use better under well-watered conditions. Surprisingly, we only observed physiological trait differences between sand and loam origins in the well-watered treatment, and any effect of soil origin disappeared under the stress of water-limitation. For G. triflorum, our results indicate that soil origin may not impact trait response under stressful environments, but differences in non-stressful environments could be important. For seed transfer across soil environments, our results point towards the need for further research aimed at understanding the scale of adaptation across soil types and the potential role the belowground community may play in restoration success.

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1 - North Dakota State Univeristy, Biological Sciences, 1340 Bolley Drive, Fargo, ND, 58102, United States
2 - The Nature Conservancy
3 - North Dakota State University, Biological Sciences, PO Box 6050, Dept. 2715, Fargo, ND, 58102, United States


Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: CB01, Conservation Biology 1
Location: /
Date: Wednesday, July 21st, 2021
Time: 11:15 AM(EDT)
Number: CB01006
Abstract ID:385
Candidate for Awards:None

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