Harnessing landscape genomics to identify future climate resilient genotypes in a desert annual

Molecular Ecology
By: , and 



Local adaptation features critically in shaping species responses to changing environments, complicating efforts to revegetate degraded areas. Rapid climate change poses an additional challenge that could reduce fitness of even locally sourced seeds in restoration. Predictive restoration strategies that apply seeds with favourable adaptations to future climate may promote long‐term resilience. Landscape genomics is increasingly used to assess spatial patterns in local adaption and may represent a cost‐efficient approach for identifying future‐adapted genotypes. To demonstrate such an approach, we genotyped 760 plants from 64 Mojave Desert populations of the desert annual Plantago ovata. Genome scans on 5,960 SNPs identified 184 potentially adaptive loci related to climate and satellite vegetation metrics. Causal modelling indicated that variation in potentially adaptive loci was not confounded by isolation by distance or isolation by habitat resistance. A generalized dissimilarity model (GDM) attributed spatial turnover in potentially adaptive loci to temperature, precipitation and NDVI amplitude, a measure of vegetation green‐up potential. By integrating a species distribution model (SDM), we find evidence that summer maximum temperature may both constrain the range of P. ovata and drive adaptive divergence in populations exposed to higher temperatures. Within the species’ current range, warm‐adapted genotypes are predicted to experience a fivefold expansion in climate niche by midcentury and could harbour key adaptations to cope with future climate. We recommend eight seed transfer zones and project each zone into its relative position in future climate. Prioritizing seed collection efforts on genotypes with expanding future habitat represents a promising strategy for restoration practitioners to address rapidly changing climates.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Harnessing landscape genomics to identify future climate resilient genotypes in a desert annual
Series title Molecular Ecology
DOI 10.1111/mec.15672
Volume 30
Issue 3
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 20 p.
First page 698
Last page 717
Country United States
State California, Nevada
Other Geospatial Mojave Desert
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