Chairs: Stephen Cavers (UKCEH, UK), Juliette Archambeau (INRAE, France)
Keynote: Tongli Wang (University of British Columbia; Canada)
Climate change is already impacting forests through gradual climatic shifts and more frequent extreme climatic events, triggering changes in biotic (e.g. insects, diseases) and abiotic (e.g. floods, fires) disturbance. Natural populations of forest trees can respond to these changes by migrating to new sites or persisting in their current locations and relying on their dispersal ability, phenotypic plasticity and ultimately genetic adaptation, the only mechanism likely to ensure long-term persistence. In production forests, the use of the genetic variation within species (forest genetic resources, FGR) to adapt to new conditions may play a fundamental role in providing resilience and maintaining wood and non-wood product provision. Assessing the vulnerability of forests to climate change involves understanding the mechanisms that underlie responses to change and predicting how populations will respond over time. Such predictions will have to incorporate the uncertainty associated with the timing and magnitude of climate change, the interaction with other threats (e.g. land-use change) and the inherent stochasticity of population responses (e.g. stochastic demographic or evolutionary processes). In this session, we welcome population and quantitative genetic and modelling studies related to past and future forest tree adaptation to climate change and how to make use of FGR and their evolutionary potential to maintain forests (managed or unmanaged) in the face of the changes ahead.