Project Title

Meta-Analysis on the Effects of Temperature and Precipitation on American Chestnut Hybrids

Presenters

Austin FlippoFollow

Academic department under which the project should be listed

Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology

Faculty Sponsor Name

Mario Bretfeld

no human subjects

Project Type

Event

Abstract (300 words maximum)

The American chestnut (Castanea dentata) is widely considered one of the most important trees, both ecologically and economically, in the eastern United States. Unfortunately, it has been almost entirely removed from the overstory by a fungal pathogen named chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica). There have been many attempts at creating a blight-resistant species of chestnut. Ongoing studies test several hybrid American chestnut species regarding their resistance in greenhouse settings and in the field. One field study has been growing several hybrids for over ten years in three different states (Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina) but did not include the impact of local climate on tree growth and survival. We performed a meta-analysis using publicly available NOAA weather station data and tree growth data gathered from the aforementioned multistate chestnut growth project. Using R-Studio, we compared relative growth rate (RGR; approximated via year-to-year percentage differences in height) with regional, annual temperature and precipitation data. We found precipitation and warm temperatures had little to no effect on RGR, while cold temperatures had a statistically significant negative effect on three out of five species studied: American chestnut, Chinese chestnut, and the B3F3 hybrid. Our study is a great example of how meta-analyses can be used to find valuable new information in pre-existing data sets during the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic that limits field work.

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Meta-Analysis on the Effects of Temperature and Precipitation on American Chestnut Hybrids

The American chestnut (Castanea dentata) is widely considered one of the most important trees, both ecologically and economically, in the eastern United States. Unfortunately, it has been almost entirely removed from the overstory by a fungal pathogen named chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica). There have been many attempts at creating a blight-resistant species of chestnut. Ongoing studies test several hybrid American chestnut species regarding their resistance in greenhouse settings and in the field. One field study has been growing several hybrids for over ten years in three different states (Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina) but did not include the impact of local climate on tree growth and survival. We performed a meta-analysis using publicly available NOAA weather station data and tree growth data gathered from the aforementioned multistate chestnut growth project. Using R-Studio, we compared relative growth rate (RGR; approximated via year-to-year percentage differences in height) with regional, annual temperature and precipitation data. We found precipitation and warm temperatures had little to no effect on RGR, while cold temperatures had a statistically significant negative effect on three out of five species studied: American chestnut, Chinese chestnut, and the B3F3 hybrid. Our study is a great example of how meta-analyses can be used to find valuable new information in pre-existing data sets during the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic that limits field work.