Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis Engelm.) has experienced rapid population declines and is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in the United States. Whitebark pine in the Sierra Nevada of California represents the southernmost end of the species' distribution and, like other portions of its range, faces threats from an introduced pathogen, native bark beetles, and a rapidly warming climate. Beyond these chronic stressors, there is also concern about how this species will respond to acute stressors, such as drought. We present patterns of stem growth from 766 large (average diameter at breast height >25 cm), disease-free whitebark pine across the Sierra Nevada before and during a recent period of drought. We contextualize growth patterns using population genomic diversity and structure from a subset of 327 trees. Sampled whitebark pine generally had positive to neutral stem growth trends from 1970 to 2011, which was positively correlated with minimum temperature and precipitation. Indices of stem growth during drought years (2012 to 2015) relative to a predrought interval were mostly positive to neutral at our sampled sites. Individual tree growth response phenotypes appeared to be linked to genotypic variation in climate-associated loci, suggesting that some genotypes can take better advantage of local climatic conditions than others. We speculate that reduced snowpack during the 2012 to 2015 drought years may have lengthened the growing season while retaining sufficient moisture to maintain growth at most study sites. Growth responses may differ under future warming, however, particularly if drought severity increases and modifies interactions with pests and pathogens.
|Title||Growth, drought response, and climate-associated genomic structure in whitebark pine in the Sierra Nevada of California|
|Authors||Phillip J. van Mantgem, Elizabeth R. Milano, Joan Dudney, Jonathan C.B. Nesmith, Amy G. Vandergast, Harold S.J. Zald|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Ecology and Evolution|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Western Ecological Research Center|