Climate change has far reaching effects beyond shrinking ice caps, glaciers, and stormy weather. In Alberta's own forest backyard, extreme weather such as drought conditions can weaken trees. Without winter cold to kill off pests, they emerge in the spring, ready to attack the weakened trees.
Trees have been able to adapt to changing conditions over time but global climate shifts have sped up the rate of change, and University of Alberta researcher Barb Thomas says that is why forests need some help, "The ability of trees to adapt through evolution will always be an option although different species show a greater or lesser degree of plasticity under changing conditions and the rate of change may exceed their capacity. By learning more about selected parent trees and subsequent populations derived from them, we can adjust which parents are contributing to the next generation of seedlings used for reforestation while meeting genetic diversity standards".
She is one of the research leaders for a newly funded project - Resilient Forests: Climate, Pests, & Policy - Genomics Applications. We like to simply call it RES-FOR.
Along with colleagues Nadir Erbilgin at the U of A and Yousry El-Kassaby at UBC they will identify and select for more resilient trees to improve the the adaptive capacity of Canadian forests.
We will be keeping you up-to-date on the team's work starting with a video overview of RES-FOR. Freelance broadcaster Don Hill spent some time at the University of Alberta visiting the lab where some of the research will be done and talked with Barb Thomas in part 1 of our 360 degree lab tour.
Part 2 of the video overview is now posted on our site and features Nadir Erbiligin talking more abour forest pests such as the mountain pine beetle.
This 360 video is ideally suited to view on your tablet or smartphone. As you tilt the device you'll get to poke around the lab while listening to the commentary. If you are watching on a desktop, we have found that it works the best in Chrome . It performs well with the new Vivaldi browser and in the newer versions of Firefox. If you are using the Microsoft Edge browser you will encounters problems so we are not recommending it right now. Left click your mouse or track pad then drag the cursor or use your finger to move up or down or side-to-side on the screen to look around the video. You can also head straight to YouTube on your browser or in the YouTube app.
And if you are using a VR device - we made sure you are taken care of as well!