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To understand plant genetic diversity and adaptations, scientist often conduct “common garden” experiments growing plants with diverse origins under the same soil and climatic conditions. However, most common garden studies may be too short to detect adaptive differences. Understanding climate adaptation of Wyoming Big Sagebrush could improve restoration strategies and success.

USGS and others analyzed data from a common gardens experiment initiated in 1992 with 13 different populations of Wyoming Big Sagebrush. Over 20 years were required for adaptive differences to emerge and increased survival of local populations was not statistically significant in the first ten years. Results suggest that provisional seed zones may assist in selection of restoration seeds but matching seed-source to restoration location may increase restoration success.


Germino, M.J., Moser, A.M., Sands, A.R., 2019, Adaptive variation, including local adaptation, requires decades to become evident in common gardens: Ecological Applications, online,

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