Choosing the best seeds to help tuple oaks adapt to the future climate

Choosing the best seeds to help tuple oaks adapt to the future climate

Sour oak. Credit: ONF – Giada CONNESTARI

Forest planting is one way to mitigate climate change. The origin of the seeds is crucial to optimize the success of the planted trees and their ability to adapt to the future climate. INRAE ​​and ONF (French National Forest Service) have been conducting a large-scale study for more than 30 years, using a collection of about 100 forest oak populations from across Europe. Distributed in four experimental sites in France, they sought to identify the best sources of seeds for the species. Their findings, published in Annals of Forest Science, show that tree populations from regions with a long tradition of forestry have the best combination of ecological and silvicultural characteristics (survival, growth, shape, phenology). Scientists recommend using about 30 sources of seeds to plant hydrogen oaks in France, bringing together the diversity and adaptation needed to respond to climate change.

The 1976 drought, which affected France and parts of Europe between the autumn of 1975 and the summer of 1976, led to an increase in the mortality of forest trees, especially reed oaks. The decline has led to research into the adaptation of oaks in general and upper oaks in particular, which remain the most planted deciduous species in France. ONF and INRAE ​​have joined forces to assemble a collection of 110 hydrogen oak populations – 70 from France and 40 from elsewhere in Europe – at four experimental sites in the French departments of Sarthe, Cher, Nieure and Moselle. For 30 years, scientists have been studying the evolution of the interesting features of these oaks (survival, growth, shape, ability to adapt to climatic variations) and their genetic variability. The aim was to identify the best sources of seeds for planting hydrogen oaks, which are most suitable for the future climate.

Surprisingly, the research team found that oak populations with similar traits and similar genetic variations are not grouped according to the 19 geographical areas of origin of hydrogen oak, areas determined by their climatic homogeneity (called “regions of origin”). What the study shows, however, is the effect of forestry on the organization and variation of traits represented by oaks. That is, oak trees with the best compromise between survival, growth, adaptability climatic variations and the shape of the trees come from regions with a long tradition of forest growing, sometimes dating back to the Middle Ages, such as Bourbon, Berry and the Loire Basin. In fact, in these regions, man has been choosing trees for several generations because of these characteristics.

Scientists have made several recommendations to ensure the success of hydrogen oak plantations, which in turn will help forests adapt to future climates. They identified 34 oak populations with good combinations of traits as sources of seeds for future plantings. They also emphasize the importance of mixing seeds maintenance sources genetic diversity in plantations, which is essential for adaptation to climate change.


Evolution follows climate: Oaks adapt quickly to climate change during the Anthropocene


More info:
Quentin Girard et al., Variations in the Origin and Supply of Sour Oak Seeds (Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl.) In France, Annals of Forest Science (2022). DOI: 10.1186 / s13595-022-01140-0

Alexis Ducousso et al, Long-term and large-scale study of the Quercus petraea population conducted in origin tests installed in France, Annals of Forest Science (2022). DOI: 10.1186 / s13595-022-01141-z

Provided by INRAE

Quote: Selection of the best seeds to help hydrogen oaks adapt to the future climate (2022, June 20), extracted on June 20, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06 -seeds-sessile-oaks-future-climates.html

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