11th –15th May, 2009 Sopron, Hungary

Forests at the limit: evolutionary – genetic consequences of environmental changes at the receding (xeric) edge of distribution

organised within the framework of SEA Training and Education programs of the European Network of Excellence project „EVOLTREE”

Aim and scope of the conference

Populations at the receding (xeric) margin of the distribution area face particular genetic and ecological challenges. Marginal populations often display low population density which make them prone to genetic bottlenecks and high inbreeding. Climatic shifts push them to the very border or outside of the species’ ecological niche. Strong selection may further reduce density and genetic diversity, and alter adaptability, leading to adaptational meltdown and ultimately to local extinction at the receding edge. Awareness has to be enhanced for coordinated research in this field because these effects have not received yet the necessary attention by the international scientific community.

The workshop is planned to deal with evolutionary-genetic consequences of growing environmental stress at the receding distribution limits of temperate forests. In the northern hemisphere, drought-linked forest distribution limits extend across the Mediterranean, Southeast Europe, South Siberia and North America.  In these densely populated regions, forests bear high ecological and social values; it is therefore an imperative to evaluate available knowledge with the objective to mitigate effects triggered by rapidly changing conditions. The workshop will address genetic consequences of rapidly changing ecological conditions at receding margins under climate change. In detail,

1. Genetic basis of plasticity and adaptability,

2. Genetic consequences of extreme events,

3. Genetic options and evolutionary limits of response to fast changes. The interplay of genetic, demographic and ecological processes in marginal populations (including interaction with pests and consumers),

4. Tasks for human intervention (forestry management and conservation) and research in mitigation, at the receding edge of distribution ranges.

If you want to see more details and/or register for the workshop, please register on the NEESPI website and log in, if you have not done so yet.

For more information, please contact Ervin Rasztovits (University of West Hungary)
e-mail: raszto(at)emk.nyme.hu