Managing plant species translocations: using genomic tools to unraveling interactions between adaptation to climate and adaptation to habitat fragmentation
Global warming is occurring to a rate that exceeds the potential of most species to evolve phenotypes adapted to warmer climates. Assisted migration, or the deliberate northward translocation of individuals, is a widely discussed conservation strategy aiming to introduce phenotypes pre-adapted to projected climate change. However, there is a critical lack of assisted migration studies integrating the effects of habitat fragmentation, another major global change stressor that threatens the persistence and adaptive potential of species and ecosystems across their entire distributions. Theory predicts that adaptation to ongoing habitat fragmentation can conflict with climate change evolution and assisted migration efforts. We propose a unique assisted migration framework integrating the combined effects of climate change and habitat fragmentation, to deliver the first empirical test of various assisted migration scenarios on the persistence and adaptive potential of a model plant species, Primula elatior, in a fragmented landscape. We compare extensive greenhouse and field experiments with complementary genomics approaches to evaluate the effectiveness of each method in the study and monitoring of assisted migration actions. The range of implications of this research vary from understanding the integrated ecoevolutionary impacts of two major ongoing global change stressors, to accounting for the evolutionary consequences of assisted migration strategies.