Determining Seed Zones for the Southern Pines: Past and Future
Dr Ron Schmidtling, Scientist Emeritus at the USDA Forest Service

 Dr. Ron Schmidtling, Scientist Emeritus at the USDA Forest Service, delivers a lecture on his own work in determining seed zones for southern pines as part of the Eastern Seed Zone Forum's series of online lecture and discussion hours. In addition to listening to the lecture,  participants had the opportunity to share their own expertise and get involved in conversation. This was the first of the Eastern Seed Zone Forum's online lecture and discussion hours aimed at providing both information about the creation of seed zones in general and a forum in which professionals, experts, and interested parties discuss the possibility of drafting seed zone guidelines for the eastern United States.

Climate Considerations When Developing Updated Seed Zones
Aurelia Baca, Climate Specialist at the Southeast Regional Climate Hub (SERCH)

ESZF's second discussion about what it will takes to create seed zone guidelines to serve as tools for improved collaborations and partnership in the region.  Aurelia Baca, Climate Specialist with the Southeast Regional Climate Hub (SERCH),  delivers  a lecture on the climate science factors that must be considered when developing updated seed zones for the southeastern United States.  

Seed Zones & Population Movement Guidelines: Concepts & Tools
Brad St. Clair, Research Geneticist, Pacific Northwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service

For the 3rd ESZF webinar and discussion hour, Dr. Brad St. Clair, Research Geneticist with the Pacific Northwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service,  presents a general background on approaches to population movement options including fixed-boundary seed zones and floating-point seed movement guidelines.  The second part of his lecture will introduce the Seedlot Selection Tool (SST), a web-based mapping application designed to help natural resource managers match seedlots (seed collections from a known origin) with planting sites based on climatic information. The SST is an option for determining how to bulk seed collections for processing, storage and grow-out, and Dr. St. Clair will demonstrate how to use it to determine where to deploy seedlots including considering options for responding to concerns about climate change.  After the lecture, participants will share their own expertise and have further opportunities to get involved in the effort.

Development & Use of Generalized Provisional Seed Zones
Andy Bower, Area Geneticist, USDA Forest Service

The fourth discussion about what it will take to create seed zone guidelines to serve as tools for improved collaborations and partnership in the region.  Dr. Andy Bower, Area Geneticist, USDA Forest Service will discuss the development and use of generalized provisional seed zones and their applicability to the Eastern Seed Zone Forum's effort to develop seed zones for the eastern US.

Common Garden Studies for Herbaceous Plants: Lessons Learned from the Longleaf Pine Ecosystem
Dr. Joan Walker, Research Ecologist, Forest Service, Southern Research Station

Where should the seeds for longleaf pine restoration come from?  The question seems simple, but the answer is not.  Many ground layer species of the longleaf pine ecosystem have broad geographic ranges, and local populations may be adapted to local climates and environments.  They may be less reliable for planting in different conditions even within the geographic range.  Although general seed zone models could be used to guide seed source selection, there is little information for assessing the applicability of general models to common forbs and grasses associated with longleaf pine. Common garden studies, in which individuals from different populations of the same species are grown together, are used to evaluate population differences. Phenological, growth and reproductive traits are measured and related to geographic, environmental, or genetic patterns.

In this webinar, Dr. Joan Walker, Research Ecologist at the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station, will describe steps taken to develop the South Carolina Common Garden Study, including seed collection, plug production, garden establishment and design, selection of traits to measure, and data collection. She will share lessons learned, discuss the value of linking performance patterns to genetic structure, and present preliminary results of our multi-species study of common herbaceous perennials of the longleaf pine ecosystem.

The Use of the National Hierarchical Framework of Ecological Units for Seed Zone Demarcation
Dr. Gregory Nowacki, Regional Ecologist, Acting Soil Program Leader, USDA Forest Service

In this webinar, Dr. Greg Nowacki, Regional Ecologist, Acting Soil Program Leader, USDA Forest Service,  describes how to use and understand ecological subdivisions in relation to the development of seed zones.

Adaptation Forestry Practices for Climate Change Mitigation: a Field Study
Dr. Julie R. Etterson, Professor, University of Minnesota Duluth, Department of Biology

Dr. Julie Etterson presents the results of the first climate-informed restoration project in the US Great Lakes forests region. This area will likely experience some of the most dramatic effects of climate change in the continental U.S.A. Simulation modeling indicates that temperate tree species that currently occur in the region at low abundance levels (e.g., Quercus rubra, Q. macrocarpa and Pinus strobus) will be well-adapted to future climate conditions, but also demonstrates that the natural colonization rates of these species cannot keep pace with the rapidly changing climate leaving many suitable niches unrealized. Dr. Julie Etterson and her team tested the efficacy of within-range planting of climate adapted species sampled from more than one seed transfer zone. In 2013 and 2014 they planted a total of 4,400 seedlings in sixteen sites using both local and seed sources from further south or west where climate conditions are warmer and drier. For three years (2014-2016), they assessed survival, growth, and spring and fall phenology. They compared the fit of the data using four models that featured contrasting factors: 1) seed transfer zones, 2) forest types, 3) geographical position, and 4) climate variables.

Evaluating Intraspecific Variation and Environmental Heterogeneity to Identify Seed Sources and Conservation Corridors
Anantha Prasad, Research Ecologist, USDA Forest Service

Intraspecific variation of tree species demography can be identified via evolutionary lineages, or alternatively by differentiating leading cold-zone regions from trailing warm-zone regions. Matching seed sources with appropriate environmental conditions can be assisted by an understanding of how intra-species evolutionary lineages and climatic regions are associated differentially with environmental heterogeneity. In this webinar, using eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) as an example, Anantha Prasad evaluates current and future habitat-fitness and colonization potential of intraspecific genetic zones from inferred evolutionary lineages. Zones that harbor glacial refugia offer seed sources that can be useful under changing climates. He also illustrates how the colonization of suitable habitats can be modeled opportunistically in the landscape to identify potential future conservation corridors. He explains how differences in demography between leading warm-zone and trailing cold-zone are related to environmental heterogeneity and can be mapped for further insights.

Development of Focal Point Seed Zones for the Present and Future
William H. Parker, Natural Resources Management, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Dr. William H. Parker explains the focal point seed zone (FPSZ) approach. FPSZ assumes that a unique set of best adapted seed sources exists for any single planting site (the focal point). Using the focal point seed zone approach, an individual site to be reforested becomes the focal point, and a unique seed procurement zone is established for that site using GIS methodology. The short-term common garden approach of Jerry Rehfeldt, showing seedling growth pattern of conifers is linked with climate of seed origin, was adapted for FPSZ basic data procurement so that seed sources adapted to hypothetical future climates may be identified and utilized in reforestation efforts.

Provisional Seed Zones: Indispensable Tools for Forest Conservation Assessment
Kevin M. Potter, Research Associate Professor, North Carolina State University

Tree species exhibit a great deal of spatial genetic variation across broad scales. Understanding the degree and extent of genetic variation within species is an important component in conservation assessments both within and across tree species. Our understanding of spatial genetic variation is limited or nonexistent for most North American tree species, however. Quantifying spatial genetic variation within a single species is time-consuming and expensive, and even when such information exists, comparing between species is a challenge. Provisional seed zones – those applicable across species and determined based only on environmental information rather than direct provenance growth tests – therefore can be useful when it is important to define seed transfer areas relatively quickly and for many species. If we assume that adaptive genetic variation within species is associated with the kind of environmental conditions that define provisional seed zones, it is logical to use these zones as broad indicators of among-population adaptive variation in species. For example, a species that extends across more seed zones is likely to encompass more genetic variation than a species that occurs in fewer zones. In this webinar, Dr. Kevin M. Potter, Research Associate Professor at North Carolina State University, will describe ways in which provisional seed zones can be used in forest tree conservation assessments. One project categorizes and prioritizes species based on threats to their adaptive genetic variation. Another addresses the USDA Forest Service’s requirement under the Montréal Process sustainability reporting agreement to estimate the number and geographic distribution of forest-associated species at risk of losing genetic variation and locally adapted genotypes.

Using Provenance Test Data to Guide Seed Movement in a Changing Climate
Dr. Laura Leites - Assistant Professor of Quantitative Forest Ecology, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Penn State

Data from provenance testing in forestry research conducted in the 1950s-1980s provide a unique opportunity to understand climate adaptation in forest trees and model populations’ responses to climate change. Even though much work has been done in conifers, studies on deciduous tree species adaptation to climate, particularly species of the Northeastern forests, are scarce. By recovering and re-analyzing data from these tests, we can start filling in this gap. Dr. Leites will present results for five deciduous species and one conifer: Acer rubrum (red maple), Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch), Juglans nigra (black walnut), Prunus serotine(black cherry), Quercus rubra (northern red oak), and Pinus strobus (eastern white pine). She will also discuss implications of these results for reforestation and conservation under a changing climate.

Eastern Seed Zones: What Have We Learned & Where Do We Go From Here?
Dr. Carrie Pike, Regeneration Specialist for the Northeast Area, State and Private Forestry, USDA Forest Service

Dr. Carrie Pike, Regeneration Specialist for the Northeast Area, State and Private Forestry, USDA Forest Service reviews lessons learned from the ESZF webinar series about developing seed zones for the eastern US and offer some examples of provisional seed zones.  She also discusses the development of the upcoming Eastern Seed Zone Summit which is slated for Lexington Kentucky May 9-10 2018.