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Eucalyptus studies contribute to foundation species conference

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Attendees at the FoResTTraC workshop on the campus of Northern Arizona University. The workshop included scientists from USA, Canada, Australia, Spain, France, Norway and the Netherlands.

Prof Brad Potts was invited to contribute to a conference on the  “The genetics of foundation species as drivers of ecological processes” which was held on February 16-18 in Flagstaff, on the campus of Northern Arizona University. The conference was funded by the FoResTTraC  of the European Union and consisted of talks in the mornings and a workshop each afternoon to develop a white paper on research priorities for research cooperation  between Europe and North America in this field. The FoResTTraC organisation aims to prepare future coordinated research plans for studying adaptation of forest trees to climate changes, linking different disciplines: ecology, genetics, genomics and evolution (read more).

The workshop addressed the following key questions: 

1) How does genetic variation in foundation species affect biodiversity and ecosystem function? 

2) What are the reciprocal effects of associated communities on genetic variation and fitness of foundation species? 

3) What are the ecological and evolutionary consequences of foundation species loss? 

4) What is the impact of climate change on foundation species and their dependent communities? 

5) What impact do invasive species have on foundation species and their dependent communities? 

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Prior to the conference, Professor Thomas Whitham (pictured) took Brad to visit field trials near Flagstaff.  The trials were established by Tom's research group (Northern Arizona University) to assess the fitness and  above- and below-ground community effects of known genotypes of pinyon pines (Pinus edulis) planted into native forest habitat on drought-prone soils derived from volcanic ash. The high fence is required to protect the experiment from browsing by deer and drip irrigation was required to get plants established in this harsh environment.     

Brad was invited to contribute to this meeting to present research being done on Eucalyptus globulus (read abstract) which is gaining a reputation as a southern hemisphere model species for such research.

Biobuzz issue fourteen, May 2011