CANFOR-01-022

Effects of Forest Management and Tree Improvement on Genetic Diversity of Lodgepole Pine and White Spruce
Sponsor: 
Canadian Forest Products Ltd.
Lead Researcher: 
Dr. Ellen Macdonald, Dr. Barb Thomas, and Dr. Ross Hodgetts, University of Alberta, Edmonton
Body: 
Several Alberta forestry companies partnered with researchers at the University of Alberta to undertake a study examining whether current management practices (ie. harvesting, regeneration, stand tending, and tree improvement) were having an impact on genetic diversity of lodgepole pine and white spruce in west-central Alberta.

Analysis of enzymes found in the needles of these trees was used to provide information on genetic diversity and similarity among stands. For each species, trees in unmanaged stands were sampled to provide baseline information on genetic diversity within the species. The data was then compared to information gathered from stands developing post-harvest.

The study has shown that current management practices are resulting in a small decline in genetic diversity of lodgepole pine but are having no negative impact to the genetic diversity of white spruce. For both species, conservation of rare alleles will require special attention and management strategies. A brochure detailing the findings of the study was developed.

The second component of the study involved the development of microsatellite markers for white spruce and related species. The loci are polymorphic and reliably amplified in up to seven species. The co-dominant alleles at the 13 loci that were tested segregated from one another in maternally-derived haploid megagmetophytic tissue. The markers are therefore well suited for use in population genetic studies, forensics, evolutionary and ecological research, and genetic improvement programs.