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Genetic characterisation of a global climate change-induced altitudinal tree-line shift in European beech (Fagus sylvatica)


Across Europe the climate warmed faster in the 20th century than in any similar period over the last millennium; the rate of warming is predicted to increase. There is mounting evidence that species migrations are occurring in response to current global climate change. However, the rapid rate of future climate change suggests that many species may be unable to migrate fast enough to keep up with their usual climate, thus some degree of adaptation of natural populations to new climatic conditions may be essential for their survival. In the MontseneyMountains in NE Spain, a climate change induced upward altitudinal migration of beech forest has been documented over the last fifty years. The temperate forest zone now extends further up the mountains, but aglow altitudes it is being replaced by Mediterranean ecosystems. No such system has been studied in the UK, thus intra-European mobility is a vital part of the project being proposed. The project will use AFLP analysis in combination with tree core data and climate records to investigate climatic segregation of beech genotypes within the Monterey beech forest and determine the extent to which adaptation may accompany migration in species\' response to global warming. The data will allow assessment of levels of genetic variability within core and peripheral areas of the montage beech forest and genetic comparison of juvenile subpopulations forming the advancing and retreating edge of the species altitudinal migration. It will provide insight into the extent to which natural forest system may be pre-adapted to global climate change and the effect of rapid migration on the distribution of genotypes within the population. In addition it will provide valuable information on the effects of rapid migration on levels of genetic diversity within natural populations and may inform further on the accuracy of mathematical models predicting changes in species\' distributions.

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Edifici C, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

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