In the Sierra, scientists bet on ‘survivor’ trees to withstand drought and climate change

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There is growing recognition that the planet is warming to rapidly to restore ecosystems to their previous state; instead steps must be taken to accelerate how plants and animals adapt. Sally Aitken, a 2014 Wall Scholar, was asked about her work using DNA of lodgepole pines to guide decisions about where to plant tree populations better suited for the changing climate. Scientists from UC Davis have embarked on a similar endeavour in Lake Tahoe. There is a current effort to plant thousands of seedlings decedents from drought surviving sugar pines, in hopes that they are resilient to future drought, waning snowpack and other symptoms of climate change. 

While in residency at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies in 2014, Sally Aitken investigated the genomic basis of genetic adaption of tree populations to the climate in order to evaluate their capacity to adapt to new climates and to develop policy recommendations to assist the adaptation of forests to new environments.