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Goal: Sustain Our Nation’s Forests and Grasslands Shortleaf Pine Genetics, Hybridization, and Restoration

Shortleaf and loblolly pine trees

Dominant shortleaf pine (left) and loblolly pine (right) at Crossett Experimental Forest, Arkansas. Photo by Jim Guldin, USDA Forest Service.

Introduction

Shortleaf pine is a priority species for restoration in the eastern U.S. Understanding the genetics of the species is important for restoration planning and implementation, as recent genetics work has shown increased rates of shortleaf x loblolly pine hybridization as a potential restoration issue. DNA testing of orchard and nursery stocks for hybridity can insure purer shortleaf pine planting stock to meet the needs of natural resource managers who are restoring shortleaf pine ecosystems.

Summary

To continue to address the genetic information needs of the Shortleaf Pine Initiative, we completed a study looking at hybridity of shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) orchard and nursery stocks across the southeastern U.S. Our study sampled both Forest Service and state agency facilities. We found none to limited amounts of first-generation (F1) hybrids with loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) in the orchards and nurseries, however there was evidence for an appreciable amount of later-generation hybridity. This may reflect bias in selecting shortleaf pines with some hybrid character for initial orchard establishment. Our previous research showed that shortleaf x loblolly pine hybrids have many desirable (strong competitive) characteristics under fire-excluding conditions, but not when fire is frequent. Establishing and maintaining shortleaf pine with frequent fire will greatly reduce or even eliminate hybrids regenerating and developing into the overstory. In addition to this research, we surveyed the literature on shortleaf pine genetics and prepared a review that can be used to guide further research and restoration planning activities. The work will be invaluable to natural resource managers across the southeast.

Principal Investigator
C. Dana Nelson, Project Leader
RWU
4160 - Forest Genetics and Ecosystems Biology
Strategic Program Area
Resource Management and Use
Publications
The genetics of shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata mill.) with implications for restoration and management
Occurrence of shortleaf x loblolly pine hybrids in shortleaf pine orchards: Implications for ecosystem restoration
Research Partner
Barbara Crane, R8 Forest Management
External Partners
Rod Will, Oklahoma State University
John Stewart, Oklahoma State University