Get access

“How Local Is Local?”—A Review of Practical and Conceptual Issues in the Genetics of Restoration


Address correspondence to J. K. McKay, Plant Sciences, One Shields Avenue, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616. email


In plant conservation, restoration (the augmentation or reestablishment of an extinct population or community) is a valuable tool to mitigate the loss of habitat. However, restoration efforts can result in the introduction of novel genes and genotypes into populations when plant materials used are not of local origin. This movement is potentially important because many plant species are subdivided into populations that are adapted to local environmental conditions. Here we focus on genetic concerns arising from ongoing restoration efforts, where often little is known about “How local is local?” (i.e., the geographic or environmental scale over which plant species are adapted). We review the major issues regarding gene flow and local adaptation in the restoration of natural plant populations. Finally, we offer some practical, commonsense guidelines for the consideration of genetic structure when restoring natural plant populations.