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UC research tests new tool to guide reintroduction of the American chestnut
Date:3/19/2012

EN software, UC students Kashimshetty and Melanie Simkins input a variety of founder planting scenarios in order to determine which would best promote a reintroduction population of American Chestnuts to thrive for the next 101 years.

They began with a theoretical restoration preserve of about 25 square kilometers square (or about 9.7 square miles). Using the software, they varied the original placement of 169 founder American Chestnuts to determine which pattern would theoretically lead to the largest population gains and the greatest genetic diversity among that population for the next 101 years. (An original replanting of 169 trees was selected for this study because previously published studies determined that figure to be the minimum number required to retain a high level of long-term genetic diversity while keeping reintroduction expenses at a minimum.)

Said Kashimshetty, "Due to the expense of producing the hybridized American Chestnuts, we wanted to test and determine potential best practices for reintroducing them. The tests that we are able to do virtually, such as varying different life history characteristics - including pollen and offspring-dispersal distances or varying the placement geometry of founders, cannot be easily done in the real world since large areas, large numbers of trees and replicate experiments lasting 100 years or more would be needed."

So, she added, "To perform multiple real-world variations on a tree like the American Chestnut would be extremely expensive and labor-intensive."

In testing varying reintroduction scenarios with the NEWGARDEN software, the UC team simulated natural population development and found

  • To ensure the greatest population growth rate and genetic diversity retention among the original founders and offspring trees, an original planting of a stand of 169 founders should be 1,500 meters (about 1,640 yards) into the preserve's borders. Said Kashimshetty, "If you
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Contact: M.B. Reilly
reillymb@ucmail.uc.edu
513-556-1824
University of Cincinnati
Source:Eurekalert  

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