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Which seed origin provides better tolerance to flooding and drought when restoring to face climate change?

Bustos‐Salazar, Angela, Smith‐Ramírez, Cecilia, Zúñiga‐Feest, Alejandra, Alves, Fernanda, Ivanovich, Rodrigo
Austral ecology 2017 v.42 no.8 pp. 934-946
Drimys winteri, adventitious roots, arid zones, chlorophyll, climate change, drought, flooding tolerance, forest restoration, leaf area, leaves, seedlings, seeds, shoots, trees, water potential, wet environmental conditions, wetlands, Andes region, Chile
Our goal was to establish the tolerance to flooding and drought of seedlings from a hydric gradient of different seed sources to provide recommendations for forest restoration in the face of climate change. We used Drimys winteri var. chilensis, a tree species that grows from extreme arid zones to wetlands along Chile, as the study subject. We expected that seedlings of xeric origin would perform better in drought conditions than populations from moist environments, and vice versa for flooding tolerance. We collected D. winteri seeds from xeric, mesic and wet environments. Seedlings at two development stages were submitted to an extreme flooding and drought treatment during 2 or 4 months in a common garden. After the flooding and drought assays finished, the number of surviving and damaged seedlings, lenticels and adventitious root presence, height, new leaves and specific leaf area, shoot/root ratio, water potential and/or chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv/Fm), were recorded. We found that flooding and drought affected almost all the parameters studied negatively. The xeric population seedlings, at both development stages studied, were the most tolerant to the drought and, unexpectedly, also to the flooding treatment. We recommend restoring with seedlings of xeric origin especially in arid areas where sudden flooding is frequent, as occurs in the Andes Mountains. In the face of climate change, we recommend carrying out common garden and field studies before advising which population origin should be used for restoration, since they do not always respond in accordance with expected patterns of local adaptation.