Genetics and Restoration of Whitebark Pine on the Pacific Coast
September 17-18, 2015 Ashland, Oregon
Pacific Coasts States Host the WPEF 2015 Annual Meeting
The 2015 Whitebark Pine Ecosystem’s Annual Science and Management Workshop was heldin Ashland, Oregon September 17th-19th at Southern Oregon University in the Meese Auditorium. This was the first time the workshop has been held in the Pacific Coast States. The board of directors met on Thursday, September 17th at the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Supervisor’s office. The indoor session was kicked off by an evening session on the 17th which was open to the public with WPEF Director, Diana Tomback; US Forest Service Plant Pathologist, Kristen Chadwick; and Crater Lake National Park Botanist Jen Beck, highlighting ecology and threats to whitebark pine throughout its range, in Oregon and Washington, and at Crater Lake National Park.
The community welcomed the WPEF and highlighted the Foundation and whitebark pine with an interview on Jefferson Public Radio’s Jefferson Exchange program with Diana Tomback, Jen Beck, and Kristen Chadwick. The interview can be found at: http://ijpr.org/post/why-whitebark-pines-are-so-important#stream/0
The main indoor session was September 18th with the workshop presenters highlighting all of the high elevation five needle pines in panels focused on Regional Updates and Status; Inventory and Monitoring; Ecology, Restoration, and Resistance; and Genomics and Landscapes. The workshop started with two keynote addresses. Diana Tomback provided the foundation on the unique ecology of the high elevation five needle pines, their geographic distributions, and the threats they face. Sam Friedman, Botanist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, gave the second keynote focusing on the listing status and process with USFWS over the next few years.
A few highlights of the presentations that followed include: Anna Schoettle presented on a proactive strategy of integrating white pine blister rust resistance into an ecological context to inform management decisions for limber pine and Rocky Mountain bristle cone pine; Richard Sniezko presented on white pine blister rust resistance breeding programs and challenged people to know and understand the data behind the analysis and the types of resistance; Barbara Bentz presented results on the vulnerability of Great Basin bristlecone pine and foxtail pine to mountain pine beetle; and Danny Cluck presented on the California Warner Mountains and the status of whitebark pine post-mountain pine beetle outbreak.
Inventory and monitoring presentations were given by Erik Jules on modeling population dynamics in whitebark pine populations; Jonny Nesmith on white pine blister rust spread on high elevation five-needle pines in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains; Michael Kaufmann on the status and distribution of whitebark pine in Northern California; and Greg DiNitto on the High-5 Database.
The indoor session wrapped up with a panel on genomics and landscapes. Andrew Eckert presented on the genomic landscape of water use efficiency for foxtail pine and on the genetic architecture of survival-related traits for whitebark pine at fine spatial scales-an example from the Lake Tahoe Basin. Uzay Sezen presented on comparative transcriptomics of four white pines. Zolton Bair presented on his work finding candidate genes associated with blister rust resistance in whitebark pine.
Overall, discussions following presentations and panels focused on the complexity of restoring these high elevation species in wilderness areas, challenging planning rules, understanding the genetic material available for restoration plantings, and a discussion on what is needed for the next steps in the genomics work. Robyn Darbyshire, Regional Silviculturist for Region Six, wrapped up the indoor session by summarizing the talks, discussions, and some insight on where to go from here.
The indoor session was followed by an evening social, silent auction, and poster viewing.
Presentations for the keynotes and the four panels can be viewed at:
Several field trips were available to those that attended. Tours of the Forest Service’s Dorena Genetic Resource Center in Cottage Grove, Oregon were optional as people traveled to Ashland. ‘Genetic resistance to blister rust in white pine species of North America’. Dorena GRC is a recognized world leader in developing populations of trees with genetic resistance to non-native pathogens such as Cronartium ribicola and Phytophthora lateralis. Highlights included seeing perhaps the largest inoculation chamber anywhere in action and took place during the 4 weeks of white pine blister rust inoculation trials. All 9 species of white pines native to the U.S. and Canada are involved in rust testing at the Center, including large scale screenings of whitebark pine, western white pine, southwestern white pine, sugar pine, and limber pine. Smaller efforts with foxtail pine, eastern white pine, and the two bristlecone pine species are ongoing. Visitors were be able to see both the major gene resistance and the mainline multi-trait rust screening, and get detailed information on genetic resistance, including cautions about over-extrapolation of results and how inoculum level impacts resistance levels. Participants were also able to visit BLM’s Tyrrell orchard complex where whitebark pine and western white pine (WWP) field trials for resistance are established with some of the most resistant seedlots known. The WWP field trial is heavily infested with white pine blister rust, easily accessible from the road, and provides perhaps the most vivid contrast of a susceptible seedlot with those with either major gene resistance or partial resistance. This site provided is a unique opportunity look at and discuss resistance in the field, its utility, and its limitations as well as the relationship between seedling artificial inoculation trials and actual field results, including the question of durability of resistance.
A field trip was led by Michael Kauffman of the California Native Plant Society to the Crater Creek Research Natural Area in Northern California to view foxtail, whitebark, and western white pine.
The workshop ended with a field trip to Crater Lake National Park to view and discuss the status of whitebark pine and the unique restoration program at the Park with Park Botanist Jen Beck. CLNP welcomed us by granting permission for the bus to drive the rim on a weekend which was closed to vehicles. Since 2002, Crater Lake National Park has been active in collecting cones, testing for resistance to white pine blister rust, applying verbenone treatments for mountain pine beetle prevention, and conducting restoration plantings. All the restoration plantings have genetic identities of the seedling families noted and will be monitored overtime. The planting at the Rim Village site is ADA accessible and seen by 100,000’s of visitors a year. The seedlings there are growing well, and blister rust has now made an appearance. Attendees were able to see some of the impacts of mountain pine beetle, white pine blister rust, and dwarf mistletoe in whitebark pine, as well as whitebark pine restoration plantings.
Many thanks for additional support to make this meeting a success which was provided by the Klamath Inventory and Monitoring Network, Crater Lake Institute, USDA-FS Forest Health Protection, and Crater Lake National Park.