Clonal Diversity of Quaking Aspen (Populus Tremuloides): How Multiple Clones May Add to Theresilience and Persistence of this Forest Type
Utah State University
Conservation and restoration of quaking aspen in the western United States requires an understanding of how and when aspen clones became established, how clones adapt to environmental challenges, and how individual clones interact within stands. I used molecular tools to identify individual clones in a natural population of aspen in southern Utah and detected high and low levels of clonal diversity within stands. Stands with high clonal diversity were located in areas with a more frequent fire history, indicating that fires may have prepared sites for seed germination and establishment over time. Conversely, areas of low clonal diversity corresponded to areas with less frequent fire. The same molecular tools were then used to investigate clonal interactions/succession over relatively recent time. For this portion of the study I sampled small, medium, and large aspen ramets (stems) at 25 subplots within spatially separated one-hectare plots, and mapped the clonal identities. I found that approximately 25% of the clones appeared to be spreading into adjacent clones, while 75% of the clones had a stationary pattern. In the final portion of the study, I again used molecular tools to identify aspen clones and investigated tradeoffs between growth and defense chemistry in mature, naturally-occurring trees. Growth was estimated using a ten-year basal area increment, and the percent dry weight of salicortin, tremulacin, and condensed tannins was measured in the same trees. Overall I discovered evidence for a tradeoff between growth and salicortin/tremulacin, and a marginally significant but positive relationship between growth and condensed tannins.
Gardner, Richard Scott. (2013). Clonal Diversity of Quaking Aspen (Populus Tremuloides): How Multiple Clones May Add to Theresilience and Persistence of this Forest Type. (MS). Thesis, Utah State University.