Thurber's needlegrass (Achnatherum thurberianum [Piper] Barkworth) is a key restoration species in the Great Basin and surrounding areas, yet comprehensive studies of how climate relates to genetic variation and seed zones for restoration projects are lacking. Potentially adaptive phenotypic traits of 66 diverse populations of Thurber's needlegrass were measured in common gardens at Central Ferry, Washington and Reno, Nevada in 2012 and 2013. Extensive genetic variation was observed among phenology, morphology, and production traits (P < 0.01), and canonical correlation was used to relate traits to source climate variables. Only with the first two canonical variates were F values significant (P < 0.05), explaining 42% and 18% of the variation, respectively. For variates 1 and 2, strong canonical correlations of 0.97 and 0.94 linked genetic variationwith source climates, providing evidence for climate-driven evolution. Pearson linear correlations indicated that populations from warmer, drier locations generally had earlier blooming and longer awns than those from cooler, wetter locations. Plants from warmer, drier locations also had higher survival at Central Ferry and higher leaf length to width (narrower leaves) at Reno in 2012. Regression of the canonical variates 1 and 2 for traits with source climate variables produced very strongmodels, explaining 94% and 87% of the variation in plant traits. Thesemodelswere used to map 12 seed zones encompassing 465 079 km2 in the Great Basin and surrounding areas with six seed zones representing 90% of the mapped area. We recommend using these seed zones to guide restoration of Thurber's needlegrass.
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Vol. 70 • No. 4