Background and aims: Genecological knowledge is important for understanding evolutionary processes and for managing genetic resources. Previous studies of coastal Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii) have been inconclusive with respect to geographical patterns of variation, due in part to limited sample intensity and geographical and climatic representation. This study describes and maps patterns of genetic variation in adaptive traits in coastal Douglas fir in western Oregon and Washington, USA.
Methods: Traits of growth, phenology and partitioning were measured in seedlings of 1338 parents from 1048 locations grown in common gardens. Relations between traits and environments of seed sources were explored using regressions and canonical correlation analysis. Maps of genetic variation as related to the environment were developed using a geographical information system (GIS).
Key results: Populations differed considerably for adaptive traits, in particular for bud phenology and emergence. Variation in bud-set, emergence and growth was strongly related to elevation and cool-season temperatures. Variation in bud-burst and partitioning to stem diameter versus height was related to latitude and summer drought. Seedlings from the east side of the Washington Cascades were considerably smaller, set bud later and burst bud earlier than populations from the west side.
Conclusions: Winter temperatures and frost dates are of overriding importance to the adaptation of Douglas fir to Pacific Northwest environments. Summer drought is of less importance. Maps generated using canonical correlation analysis and GIS allow easy visualization of a complex array of traits as related to a complex array of environments. The composite traits derived from canonical correlation analysis show two different patterns of variation associated with different gradients of cool-season temperatures and summer drought. The difference in growth and phenology between the westside and eastside Washington Cascades is hypothesized to be a consequence of the presence of interior variety (P. menziessii var. glauca) on the eastside.