Introducing genomics in restoration ecology: How many seed zones does Carex bigelowii have in Norway?

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Kristine Westergaard

Publication Date:

The introduction of genomic methods in ecological restoration is promising as a tool for achieving restoration goals. However, there are only a few case studies showing how genomics can be implemented to restore biodiversity. Here we use seeding as a case, focusing on the active restoration of the former military, arctic-alpine Hjerkinn area, the largest restoration project in Norway. A commonly advocated approach to seeding in restoration is to use seeds from local populations because they will be genetically similar to the original populations. However, there are no guidelines for how local seeds should be selected, and several aspects like intraspecific genetic diversity, inbreeding and adaptive genetic variation complicate the use of seed mixtures of local origin without using molecular methods to confirm the genetic suitability of seeds. We use ddRADseq-derived SNPs to investigate the genetic structure of the sedge Carex bigelowii in Norway, hypothesizing that previously delimited seed zones are not encompassing important genetic variation found between two ecologically distinct subspecies or within the subspecies. We discuss our results, considering conceptual discussions on restoring different levels of biodiversity, and in the context of ongoing discussions on selecting appropriate strategies and seed sources for restoration. The emerging field of landscape genomics, analyzing the genetic basis underlying local adaptation surely adds new tools to the restoration tool box.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Society for Ecological Restoration