Pinus edulis Growth Using Common Gardens in Varying Arid Environments 

Mallory Decker1*, Hannah Kantoris2 

1Northern Arizona University, Whipple Lab, Flagstaff, Arizona, United States of America

2Northern Arizona University, Whipple Lab, Flagstaff, Arizona, United States of America 

Climate change has raised temperatures on the semi-arid Colorado Plateau, resulting in an increase of extreme environmental conditions. These extreme conditions include low precipitation to increasing temperatures, creating a growing need to study the physiological and morphological responses of the model semi-arid species Pinus edulis. Pinus edulis seedlings were grown in a common garden experiment in varying arid environments along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The seedlings came from four sites across Northern Arizona, two of the sites were located on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon that have a cold climate and high elevation, as well as two sites located near Sedona that have a warmer climate and lower elevation. These contrasting environments were used to see if the maternal climate and elevation of seedlings influences their growth. All seedlings were randomly planted in common gardens across three varying environments, the first had a warm climate and low elevation, the second had a mid-climate and mid-elevation, and the last had a cold climate and high elevation. In observing above ground productivity, distinct patterns of growth were shown for each common garden environment. Though each of the three common gardens had individuals from differing maternal environments, this did not seem to affect their growing behavior due to each population having similar growth patterns as their neighbors in each common garden. These results suggest that the use of common garden planting as with Pinus edulis can aid in the restoration of the changing semi-arid environments on the Colorado Plateau by helping us better understand the growth behaviors of plateau species when responding to climate change.