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Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2021-10-01 - 2024-09-30

Non-native tree species could make an important contribution to the establishment of climate-smart forests. In Austria, northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.) is one of the economically most important non-native forest tree species. However, as a rule, only seed stands of unknown origin are available as seed sources. Especially for species with a large natural range like northern red oak, the origin of the material plays a crucial role for sustainable climate fitness. The adaptation of northern red oak within its native range has already been proven by means of field trials, genetic and genomic studies. Therefore, the origin plays a significant role for the adaptability of red oak forests in Austria. Hence, this project will: (i) investigate the origin and genetic diversity of existing and potential seed stands using molecular genetic markers; (ii) set up field trials with progeny from different stands to test adaptation-relevant traits (phenological and other physiological traits); and (iii) conduct a genomic study of the progeny to explore the relationship between adaptive traits and genotype using an association study to identify adaptation-relevant genes. The results of the association study will provide the basis for selection steps beyond phenotypic selection. Furthermore, the progeny grown in the project will be used to establish experimental plots in order to check the growth characteristics of the different seed sources in the medium and long term.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2021-01-01 - 2022-12-31

The damage situation in the forests of the border region, which has persisted for years poses major problems and challenges for forest owners, authorities and stakeholders. In the the course of crisis management, it became apparent how strongly local measures can cope with the catastrophe in a cross-border manner on the one hand, and on the other hand, how problems could be mitigated by better information exchange. In the Czech Republic and in Austria, information is available due to adaptation strategies in forestry. The climatic extremes, risks, possible solutions, etc. could, however, be similar in both countries. The primary project objective is therefore the joint development of important support mechanisms for the efficient management of large-scale damage events (crisis management) and for the future reduction of production and income risks (risk management) in forest management. For the first time, a joint knowledge and information platform is being established through cooperation between a wide range of forestry institutions in the border region.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2021-04-01 - 2024-03-31

Given the pace of climate change, the question is raised whether local gene pools of forest trees will be able to adapt to the changing environmental conditions. Transfer of forest reproductive material (FRM) from arid sites might be needed for improving the capacity of forests to cope with increased drought and higher temperatures. Source populations for such plantations may originate (i) from lower latitudes or (ii) from arid sites within a larger region. However, current guidelines for FRM are strongly focused on local seed sources. Here, we propose the use of genetic and genomic tools in order to identify populations capable to cope with future drought-stress due to climate change. Our study regions are (i) Central Europe (covering Switzerland, Southern Germany and Austria) and (ii) The Eastern Mediterranean region covered by Greece and Turkey. Our study species are the three closely related white oaks Quercus robur, Q. petraea and Q. pubescens which are native to both regions. We raise the questions: (1) whether genes and genomic regions carry specific or shared imprints of adaptation at the regional (within regions) or at the continental scale (across regions); (2) whether we can identify associations between genotype and phenotype at traits involved in drought responses; (3) whether FRM transfer at the regional/continental scale will significantly increase the adaptive capacity of future forests and (4) which strategy of FRM transfer is optimal to increase benefits and decrease risks of such transfers. To answer these questions, we plan to characterize genomic signatures of local adaptation to drought within each region using environmental association analysis (EAA). In addition, we seek to reveal the genes underlying phenotypic traits under selection, applying a genome-wide association analysis (GWAS) between genotype and phenotype in two provenance trials. Based on these results, we will develop an innovative concept for FRM guidelines to the needs resulting from climate change. This concept will take adaptive genetic variation, as revealed by EAA and GWAS, into account. The participation of applied research institutes, which are also responsible for formulation of FRM guidelines, will ensure that all practical and policy-related aspects will be considered from the beginning of the project. Moreover, a wider network of stakeholders and policy makers from all cooperating countries will be involved from the beginning of the project and will be informed about research results and the concept for FRM guidelines in the framework of a workshop in the end of the project.

Supervised Theses and Dissertations