Sala de Graus II. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
08193 Barcelona Barcelona
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Direct link to Sally Aitken's conference.

CREAF Talk with Sally Aitken - "Understanding and managing adaptation of widespread conifers to climate change"

Tuesday, October 24, 2023From 12 to 1 pm

TITLE: "Understanding and managing adaptation of widespread conifers to climate change"

DATE: Tuesday, 24th October 2023.

TIME & FORMAT: form 12 to 1pm CET - In-person and online.

Seminars will combine in-person and online formats (CREAF, Sala Graus II, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain) but in all cases, talks will be always streamed (not recorded), so they can be followed online.

HOW TO CONNECT: direct link to Sally Aitken's conference.


The conservation and management of natural populations has historically been place-based, with an emphasis on maintaining habitat, genetic diversity, and population demographics in situ and using local seed sources for restoration and reforestation.  With climate change, conservation managers need to know if species are locally adapted to climate, what climate variables are most important for adaptation, the extent of maladaptation to projected future conditions, and the capacity of populations to adapt to those conditions. This can inform decisions including whether to translocate individuals preadapted to new conditions, i.e., assisted gene flow, and if some populations are likely to experience greater maladaptation than others. I will discuss the local adaptation of widespread conifers from western North America to historic temperature and precipitation regimes, and the implications for populations under climate change, using population genomic data and common garden experiments. While local adaptation to temperature is common in temperate conifers, it is surprising that the signal of local adaptation to drought is weak in several species we have studied. Genomic data is effective in identifying key climate variables for local adaptation; however, results from genomic models predicting maladaptation vary with the scope of populations included in model building, and require validation before being used to guide management decisions.


Sally Aitken is a Professor in the Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. She obtained her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, USA. Her research integrates phenotypic, genomic and climatic data to understand the processes driving local adaptation to climate in trees and to guide reforestation and genetic conservation efforts. She has led two multi-institutional large-scale applied research projects funded by Genome Canada, AdapTree and CoAdapTree, focussed on developing genomic approaches and tools to guide reforestation, restoration and breeding for new climates. She co-authored the textbook Conservation and the Genomics of Populations (third edition by FA Allendorf and coauthors published by Oxford University Press in 2023). Dr. Aitken received the Canadian Forestry Scientific Achievement Award in 2009, the International Union of Forest Research Organization’s Scientific Achievement Award in 2014, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2017.