Safeguarding sustainability of forest ecosystems with their habitat variability and all their functions is of highest priority. Therefore, the long-term adaptability of forest ecosystems to a changing environment must be secured, e.g., through sustainable forest management. High adaptability is based on biological variation starting at the genetic level. Thus, the ultimate goal of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to halt the ongoing erosion of biological variation is of utmost importance for forest ecosystem functioning and sustainability. Monitoring of biological diversity over time is needed to detect changes that threaten these biological resources. Genetic variation, as an integral part of biological diversity, needs special attention, and its monitoring can ensure its effective conservation. We compare forest genetic monitoring to other biodiversity monitoring concepts. Forest genetic monitoring (FGM) enables early detection of potentially harmful changes of forest adaptability before these appear at higher biodiversity levels (e.g., species or ecosystem diversity) and can improve the sustainability of applied forest management practices and direct further research. Theoretical genetic monitoring concepts developed up to now need to be evaluated before being implemented on a national and international scale. This article provides an overview of FGM concepts and definitions, discusses their advantages and disadvantages, and provides a flow chart of the steps needed for the optimization and implementation of FGM. FGM is an important module of biodiversity monitoring, and we define an effective FGM scheme as consisting of an assessment of a forest population’s capacity to survive, reproduce, and persist under rapid environmental changes on a long-term scale.
The fate of peripheral forest tree populations is of particular interest in the context of climate change. These populations may concurrently be those where the most significant evolutionary changes will occur; those most facing increasing extinction risk; the source of migrants for the colonization of new areas at leading edges; or the source of genetic novelty for reinforcing standing genetic variation in various parts of the range. Deciding which strategy to implement for conserving and sustainably using the genetic resources of peripheral forest tree populations is a challenge. Here, we review the genetic and ecological processes acting on different types of peripheral populations and indicate why these processes may be of general interest for adapting forests and forest management to climate change. We particularly focus on peripheral populations at the rear edge of species distributions where environmental challenges are or will become most acute. We argue that peripheral forest tree populations are “natural laboratories” for resolving priority research questions such as how the complex interaction between demographic processes and natural selection shape local adaptation; and whether genetic adaptation will be sufficient to allow the long-term persistence of species within their current distribution. Peripheral populations are key assets for adaptive forestry which need specific measures for their preservation. The traditionally opposing views which may exist between conservation planning and sustainable forestry need to be reconciled and harmonized for managing peripheral populations. Based on existing knowledge, we suggest approaches and principles which may be used for the management and conservation of these distinctive and valuable populations, to maintain active genetic and ecological processes that have sustained them over time.
Presented is the overview of red oak in its natural distribution range, its adaptive and neutral genetic variability in the native range and in Europe, breeding activities undertaken and genetic aspects of natural regeneration in Europe.