Jason Holliday, assistant professor of forest genetics and biotechnology, is using a $1.5 million Faculty Early Career Development Program grant from the National Science Foundation to gain insight into how tree populations adapt at the genomic scale as a result of climate change. “Although forest tree populations are well adapted to their local environments at present, climate change is substantially altering adaptive landscapes and is expected to lead to widespread maladaptation of tree populations to their seasonal temperature regimes,” said Holliday.

Holliday has employed similar genomic tools to study local climatic adaptation in Sitka spruce. The current study, in collaboration with colleagues from the university of Florida and the university of Alberta, will extend this work in black cottonwood, an ideal species for understanding the genomics of adaptation because it has a small, fully sequenced genome, it can be vegetatively propagated, allowing for more accurate measurement of traits, and its natural range is climatically diverse.

In collaboration with Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist John Munsell, Holliday will also develop investigative field workshops for landowners, practitioners, and students as part of Virginia’s link to Education About Forestry program. Participants will explore the relationship between climatic adaptation and seed sources, as well as the potential impacts of climate change on forest productivity.