Provenance variation in pinus palustris foliar δ13C
Longleaf pine forests are currently being restored in the southern U.S. To aid in the deployment of longleaf pine under current and future climate conditions, we tested the hypothesis that genetic variability in foliar carbon isotope composition (δ13C) exists in this species. Foliar δ13C, height and diameter were measured at ages of 5 and 6 years, and needle length, specific leaf weight (SLW) and foliar N concentration were measured at an age of 6 years in 16 longleaf pine families representing a large portion of the species’ range. Families were grown in common garden tests in North Carolina and Mississippi and grouped for analysis into six provenances based on climate, soils, and discontinuities in the species’ range. No genetic by environment interactions were observed. Greater foliar δ13C was observed in trees from the provenance consisting of the Piedmont and Montane Uplands than from the provenances representing the western and eastern Gulf Coastal Plains. Foliar δ13C was not significantly correlated to height at age 6, suggesting that it may be possible to select for improved foliar δ13C without sacrificing growth. These results represent a first step in identifying potential genetic variation in leaf water use efficiency and drought tolerance of longleaf pine.