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Testing the Home-Site Advantage in Forest Trees on Disturbed and Undisturbed Sites

Authors

  • Eleanor K. O'Brien,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Animal Biology, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway Nedlands, Western Australia 6009, Australia
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  • Siegfried L. Krauss

    1. Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, Fraser Avenue West Perth, Western Australia 6005, Australia
    2. School of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway Nedlands, Western Australia 6009, Australia
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E. K. O’Brien, email eobrien@graduate.uwa.edu.au

Abstract

Restoration of plant populations is often undertaken using seed or plants from local sources because it is assumed they will be best adapted to the prevailing conditions. However, the effect of site disturbance on local adaptation has rarely been examined. We assessed local adaptation in three southwestern Australian forest tree species (Eucalyptus marginata, Corymbia calophylla, and Allocasuarina fraseriana) using reciprocal transplant trials at disturbed and undisturbed sites. Performance of plants within the trials was assessed over 2 years. Planting location accounted for the majority of the variation in most measures of performance, although significant variation of percent emergence among source populations was also detected. In all species, percent emergence and survival of plants sourced from Darling Range populations was significantly higher than that of plants from the Swan Coastal Plain, regions of contrasting edaphic and climatic environment. Survival of E. marginata over the first 18 months and emergence of C. calophylla were both higher in local plants, providing at least weak evidence for local adaptation. Where a local advantage was observed, the relative performance of local and nonlocal seed did not vary among disturbed and undisturbed sites. Evidence for enhanced establishment from local seed in at least one species leads us to recommend that where sufficient high-quality seed supplies exist locally, these should be used in restoration. We also recommend longer-term studies to include the possibility of local adaptation becoming evident at later life history stages.

Ancillary