Polyploidy is common among plants and can contribute to physiological and morphological differences, altering how plants respond to environmental changes, promoting genetic diversification, and even species radiation. Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), a keystone species associated with high plant and animal diversity is frequently found in mixed diploid/triploid populations in the Intermountain West. High mortality rates and widespread population declines in aspen are of increasing concern in the Intermountain West, often ascribed to changing climates and drought stress events. The goal of this study was to better understand environmental factors influencing the distribution of triploid aspen population in the Intermountain West. Using restriction-site associated DNA sequencing (RAD-seq), we examined the occurrence of diploid and triploid aspen populations at various spatial scales in relation to environmental variables associated with soil moisture content. Our results suggest that triploidy in aspen on the landscape is associated with environmental variables related to soil moisture and may be influenced by specific local variations in topography, climate, and precipitation patterns. Overall, we found that conditions associated with low soil moisture were associated with lower frequencies of triploid aspen. Our results suggest that triploid aspen clones may be more susceptible to mortality than diploid clones in the warmer, drier climates expected with climate change. We acknowledge, however, that there are many knowledge gaps regarding the generation and persistence of triploid aspen clones. Understanding the causes and consequences of triploidy in aspen will be important in predicting and managing aspen persistence in landscapes of the western U. S. under changing climate conditions.

Author ORCID Identifier

Karen E. Mock

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.pdf, .txt, .xlsx

Publication Date



Utah Agricultural Experiment Station


Utah State University


Data was derived from ddRAD-seq prepared libraries. Raw Sequence data can be found at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI,, BioProject 'PRJNA1063753', Sequence Read Archive (SRA) accessions 'SRR27495551 to SRR27496309' & 'SRR27500821 to SRR27501579', BioSample accessions 'SAMN39407291 to SAMN39408049' & 'SAMN39413581 to SAMN39414339'. Sequencing data will be released January 1, 2025. Access to data via reviewer link can be made available upon request until date of release.

Scientfic Names

Populus tremuloides

Referenced by

Walton, James A., "Environmental Factors Associated With Triploid Aspen Occurrence in Intermountain West Landscapes" (2024). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations, Fall 2023 to Present. 191.



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Environmental Sciences | Natural Resources Management and Policy


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.




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